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Eur J Emerg Med. 2014 Apr;21(2):130-5. doi: 10.1097/MEJ.0b013e328362dffa.

Prehospital paediatric emergencies treated by an Australian helicopter emergency medical service.

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CareFlight, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



The aim of this study was to describe the mechanism and severity of injuries in the paediatric population treated by an Australian helicopter emergency medical service and to examine the frequency and nature of interventions performed. This information is important for planning education and continuing professional development in prehospital medicine.


The study is a retrospective cohort analysis of 349 patients under the age of 16 treated by CareFlight in Sydney, Australia, between April 2007 and April 2012. Data collected included age, type of incident, medication and fluid administered, procedures performed, receiving hospital, 24 h and 30-day mortality and injuries sustained.


Falls (33%), motor vehicle incidents (30%), sport injury (14%) and immersion injury (12%) were the most common mechanisms. A total of 27 children died within 30 days; nontrauma cases were proportionally overrepresented in the deaths. With respect to tasking, 59% cases involved a severely or significantly injured child. Among the children, 97% with a traumatic mechanism were transferred directly to a paediatric trauma centre.In addition, 81% of children had at least one intervention by the helicopter emergency medical services team at the incident scene, most commonly intravenous cannulation (61%), crystalloid bolus (29%), intubation (21%) and intravenous analgesia administration (15%).


Paediatric prehospital patients can be of high dependency, requiring urgent critical care procedures. Training in prehospital medicine should include paediatrics. It is essential that practitioners maintain skills in venous access, airway management and provision of adequate analgesia in children.

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