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Prehosp Disaster Med. 1996 Jul-Sep;11(3):180-7.

Epidemiology of pediatric EMS practice: a multistate analysis.

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  • 1Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84132, USA.



To describe the epidemiology of pediatric emergency medical services (EMS) practice in a large patient population from several geographic areas.


Retrospective computer analysis of EMS databases from four states using a common data set and analysis system.


Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Nevada (except Clark County), 1990 through 1992.


All patient-care reports of patients 14 years old and younger were extracted from the EMS databases and analyzed for the following factors: age, gender, date, elapsed prehospital times, incident type, mechanism of injury, call disposition, illness or injuries encountered, severity of illness/injury (by abnormal vital signs), and basic life support (BLS) and advanced life support (ALS) treatment delivered.


A total of 1,512,907 patient care reports were reviewed. Those of 61,132 children were extracted for analysis. These children comprised about 4% of prehospital responses. Male subjects predominated (56%), and children aged 7 through 14 years represented 46% of cases. Most calls occurred in the evening and daylight hours. Children were transported by ambulance in 89% of cases, and care was refused in 7.7%. Mean response time was 9 +/- 16 minutes, mean scene time 12 +/- 14 minutes, and mean transport time 14 +/- 20 minutes. Traumatic incidents predominated at 42%, with motor vehicle accidents and falls the most common mechanisms. Blunt injuries accounted for 94% of trauma, whereas respiratory problems, seizures, and poisoning/overdose were the most common medical problems. Vital signs were obtained in 56% of cases. Abnormal vital signs were noted in 21% of these, and the presumptive causes were similar in distribution to those of the general population, with the addition of cardiac arrest. The most commonly used treatments were spinal immobilization, oxygen administration, intravenous access and several ALS medications. An ALS capability was available in more than half the runs, but ALS treatment was delivered in only 14% of those cases. Outcome data were not available.


This multistate analysis of pediatric EMS epidemiology confirms findings reported in smaller regional studies, with several exceptions. Excessive scene times were not noted. Few children had serious disorders as evidenced by abnormal vital signs. An ALS treatment, when available, was used infrequently. These findings have implications for EMS planners and educators.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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