Objective: The aim of this study was a retrospective analysis of polytraumatized patients who were treated by a helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) crew. This study was performed to evaluate the level of prehospital care provided for severely injured patients. Special consideration was given to treatment strategies of specific injuries which led to multiple injuries, defined as "polytrauma."
Methods: From September 1992 to April 2001 data of 386 patients treated in the Department of Traumatology of the University of Vienna were collected. A total of 104 patients (26.9%) were transported by helicopter directly from the accident scene. This collective was analyzed demographically; relevant prehospital data such as therapeutic interventions and the early clinical course were examined.
Results: The mean Injury Severity Score (ISS) was 36.9: 70 (67.3%) patients were male and 34 (32.7%) female; the median age was 36.1 years. Traffic accidents were the most frequent trauma mechanism (78.9%) followed by falls from height (17.3%). The mean period between trauma and trauma emergency room was 0.73 h; 77 (74.0%) patients were intubated and mechanically ventilated at the scene and all patients received analgosedation. The mean preclinical fluid load was 1673 ml. The mean duration of treatment in the emergency room was 53 min. The mean length of intensive care was 8.6 days and the mortality rate was 19.2% within the first 24 h.
Conclusion: Major trauma is an important cause for requesting a primary HEMS mission. As the results of this study show, immediate and invasive interventions at the scene lead to an improvement of vital functions at admission. For the patients' further course of treatment, the choice of a trauma center seems to be important, too.