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J Am Board Fam Pract. 1991 Sep-Oct;4(5):313-8.

A rural-urban comparison of prehospital emergency medical services in Nebraska.

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1
Humboldt Family Practice Clinic, NE 68376.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Provision of emergency medical services (EMS) in the rural United States presents a unique challenge. While rural and urban EMS outcomes have been compared, differing urban-rural population characteristics and roles for rural ambulance teams can confound such comparisons.

METHODS:

A year-long study of the prehospital EMS was conducted in rural Richardson County, Nebraska. Data were collected on the age, sex, and race of patients, response time, transport distance, medical problems encountered, and treatment rendered enroute. These data compared with those from an urban Lancaster County comparison group and statistical data from the Nebraska State Health Department.

RESULTS:

In the rural county, 70 percent of calls involved the elderly, whereas 38 percent of the urban calls and 36 percent of the Nebraska State calls involved the elderly. The rural ambulance service was more likely to provide for routine transfers, to involve patients with fractures and cardiorespiratory and neurologic problems, and twice as likely to result in hospital admission than was the urban ambulance service. The frequency with which advanced life support measures were applied in the rural area was similar to that in the urban area. The rural area response times were equivalent to the urban area response times after the rural area long-distance transfers were excluded. The location of service in the rural area was more likely to be the hospital or nursing home, whereas the urban location was more likely to be a home, on a highway, or in a public setting.

CONCLUSIONS:

Prehospital EMS in this rural location involved a predominantly elderly population with a large number of routine transfers linking the nursing home and community hospital. Further comparisons of rural and urban EMS outcomes should account for possible differences in type and severity of illness and type and location of service.

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PMID:
1746299
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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