Emergency medical services transport decisions in posttraumatic circulatory arrest: Are national practices congruent?

Jeremy Brywczynski, Jared McKinney, Paul E. Pepe, Marc Eckstein, J. Brent Myers, Raymond L. Fowler, Corey M. Slovis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To catalog the 9-1-1 emergency medical services (EMS) transport practices for posttraumatic circulatory arrest patients (PTCAPs) in the majority of the nation's largest municipalities and to compare those practices to guidelines recommended by the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) and American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (ACSCOT). Methods: A survey was conducted in 33 of the nation's largest cities primarily to determine whether or not individual EMS systems transport PTCAPs to hospitals and, if so, whether or not the initial electrocardiographic (ECG) rhythm or mechanism of injury affected those transport decisions. Results: All 33 cities (100%) responded. Seven (21%) indicated that EMS would transport an "asystolic blunt trauma patient" emergently or "leave the transport decision to paramedic judgment" despite NAEMSP-ACSCOT guidelines to terminate resuscitation in such cases. Likewise, 15 (46%) of the 33 EMS agencies would transport "asystolic penetrating trauma patients" emergently. Similarly, 27 (82%) would transport penetrating injury patients and 20 (61%) would transport blunt trauma patients with persistent ECG activity but no palpable pulses. However, only five systems had policies that included a minimum ECG heart rate criterion for transport, and all agencies that monitor ECG (n = 32) would transport PTCAPs found with ventricular fibrillation. Conclusions: Many of the nation's highest volume EMS systems transport certain PTCAPs emergently, contrary to NAEMSP-ACSCOT guidelines to terminate resuscitative efforts in such cases. Reasons for these discrepancies should be evaluated to help better delineate applicable consensus guidelines for large urban EMS agencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1154-1159
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010


  • Blunt and penetrating
  • Emergency medical services
  • Prehospital
  • Transport decisions
  • Trauma arrest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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