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J Formos Med Assoc. 2001 Sep;100(9):581-6.

Ambulance utilization in metropolitan and rural areas in Taiwan.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, 7 Chung-Shan South Road, Taipei, Taiwan.



Emergency medical services (EMS) have expanded rapidly in the Asian developing countries recently. However, the patterns of ambulance utilization in the rural and urban areas of these countries have not been thoroughly described. This study investigated the patterns of ambulance utilization in two urban areas and the larger rural area of Taiwan formerly designated Taiwan Province.


We studied a total of 304,368 ambulance missions during 1997 in Taiwan. We analyzed the differences in the characteristics of emergency calls and the interventions performed on the scene in two urban areas, Taipei City and Kaohsiung City, and in the rural area formerly designated Taiwan Province.


The call volume and percentage of non-transport calls were higher in the more developed of the two urban areas, Taipei City, than in Kaohsiung (p < 0.01). The incidence of calls with trauma-related causes was higher in both urban areas. However, the percentage of calls placed for trauma-related reasons was higher in the rural area (p < 0.01). More calls for acute medical illness were placed in Taipei City (p < 0.01) than in the rural area. The number of interventions performed by ambulance staff was higher in Taipei City and Kaohsiung City than in the rural area (p < 0.01). The availability of acute illness management was generally lower than needed in all areas.


Call volume and the number of interventions performed were higher in the urban area, whereas the percentage of trauma-related calls was higher in the rural area. These findings suggest that EMS use patterns in Taiwan are transitioning towards a pattern characteristic of a more developed country. The differences in ambulance utilization patterns must be considered in plans to further develop EMS services in these areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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