Emergency medical services (EMS) versus non-EMS transport among injured children in the United States

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This study aimed to assess the proportions of injured children transported to trauma centers by different transportation modes and evaluate the effect of transportation mode on inter-facility transfer rates using the US national trauma registry.


We analyzed data from the 2007–2012 National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) to study trends of EMS versus non-EMS transport. Multivariable logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between transport mode and inter-facility transfer.


There were 286,871 pediatric trauma patients in the 2007–2012 NTDB; 45.8% arrived by ground ambulance, 8.6% arrived by air ambulance, and 37.5% arrived by non-EMS. From 2007 to 2012, there was no significant change in transportation mode. Moderate to severely injured patients (ISS > 15) comprised 13.3% of arrivals by ground ambulance, 26.7% of arrivals by air ambulance, and 8.3% of arrivals by non-EMS; those who used EMS were significantly less likely to be transferred to another facility than patients who used non-EMS transport. Moderate and severe pediatric patients arriving by non-EMS to adult trauma centers were more often transferred than those arriving at mixed trauma centers (45.8% and 6.8%, respectively).


Over one third of US pediatric trauma patients used non-EMS transport to arrive at trauma centers. Moderate to severely injured children benefit from EMS transport and professional field triage to reach the appropriate trauma facility. Our study suggests that national efforts are needed to increase awareness among parents and the general public of the benefits of EMS transportation and care.

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