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Anaesthesist. 2008 Jun;57(6):562-70. doi: 10.1007/s00101-008-1373-3.

[Time in care of trauma patients in the air rescue service: implications for disposition?].

[Article in German]

Author information

Interdisziplinäre Notfallaufnahme, Klinikum Fulda gAG, Pacelliallee 4, 36043 Fulda, Deutschland.



Time plays a crucial role in treating multiple traumatized patients and delays in management worsen the prognosis. Furthermore, current studies show that trauma patients profit from primary delivery to a trauma center. Therefore, the goal of physician-staffed ground and air rescue services in Germany is to treat these patients as quickly as possible and deliver them to a suitable trauma center. The aim of the present study was to investigate prehospital treatment times for the air rescue team in terms of disposition and efficiency when a ground rescue team was already present at the scene.


In a nationwide, multicenter analysis emergency missions carried out for traumatological emergencies in 2006 by 28 air rescue centers (ARC) of the TeamDRF and 6 ARC of the federal police were evaluated using the medical database MEDAT of the German Air Rescue Service. A distinction was made between combined missions with (MEDAT 1 group) and without (MEDAT 2 group) physician-staffed ground emergency medical services already being present at the emergency site and in particular the rescue helicopter treatment times for both groups were investigated. Furthermore, combined missions (MAN 1 group) and solo missions (MAN 2 group) for traumatological emergencies in the period 01.05.2006 to 31.01.2007 were investigated in a complementary prospective regional study at the ARC Heidelberg/Mannheim "Christoph 53". In both groups the total treatment times for all physician-staffed emergency systems involved in treatment at the scene were investigated.


Nationwide, 26,010 primary missions could be evaluated and of these, 11,464 missions were traumatological emergencies (44.1%) with 2,229 (19.4%) carried out by the MEDAT 1 group and 9,235 (80.6%) by the MEDAT 2 group. For both groups the helicopter treatment times depended on the severity of the injuries (NACA classification) and were between 17+/-12 min (NACA I) and 34+/-19 min (NACA VII) in MEDAT group 1 versus 21+/-10 and 36+/-19 min in MEDAT group 2 (p<0.05, p<0.001), respectively. In the MEDAT 1 group, the average treatment times were between 2.8 min (NACA VII) and 8.1 min (NACA VI) shorter compared with the MEDAT 2 group. Moreover, when taking the severity of the injury into consideration, a regular and significantly higher treatment effort (e.g. intubation, repositioning and chest tube insertion) and a greater proportion of patients who were transported to the clinic via rescue helicopter were observed for the MEDAT 1 group than for the MEDAT 2 group. In the regional study 670 primary missions were evaluated including 382 traumatological emergencies (57%). From these, 90 multiple trauma patients (NACA V) were not resuscitated or died at the scene, 58 from the MAN 1 group and 32 from the MAN 2 group, and were investigated more closely. The helicopter treatment times were comparable to those observed in the nationwide study and were found to be 26+/-12 min and 35+/-20 min (p<0.05), respectively. In the MAN 1 group the treatment times for the ground rescue services up to the time when the helicopter arrived was 22+/-11 min on average; the total treatment time was 48+/-15 min and 12+/-8 min longer than the time for the MAN 2 group, which was statistically significant. In the MAN 1 group the helicopter was alerted on average 17+/-15 min after the physician-staffed ground rescue services arrived at the emergency site. Treatment by the rescue helicopter teams was significantly more extensive in the MAN 1 group.


The treatment times for the helicopter were several minutes shorter when a physician-staffed ground rescue team had already arrived at the emergency site. However, it must be assumed that the total prehospital time is significantly longer for such missions. These results directly affect the disposition at the emergency dispatch center and indicate that when air rescue is required to transport a patient to hospital, the helicopter should be alerted at an early stage. In such settings, it is likely that initiating the operation in this way would improve the prognosis of severely injured patients and save costs.

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