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Rapid response car as a supplement to the helicopter in a physician-based HEMS system

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The purpose of this study was to describe the use of a rapid response car (RRC) as a supplement to the ambulance helicopter in a mixed urban/rural region in Norway. Methods: 

Data from all the requested missions were collected from standard flight records. Operational factors, patient characteristics, primary diagnosis, treatment and modes of transport were registered and analyzed retrospectively. Results: 

In 1999–2001, a total of 4777 requests were included in the study, resulting in the initiation of 3172 helicopter and 752 RRC missions. In the RRC missions, 224 patients received advanced medical treatment that would otherwise not have been provided. For 181 patients, the availability of the RRC was crucial for receiving the treatment of the helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS). The cost of equipping the base with the RRC increased the annual budget by less than one percent. Conclusion: 

The RRC was essential for solving missions in periods of non-flying conditions. The RRC increased the availability of the advanced prehospital life support offered by the HEMS in this region. Taking the modest increase in cost into consideration, it seems reasonable that this HEMS, covering mixed urban and rural areas, is equipped with such a vehicle.

Keywords: Air ambulance; ambulance; emergency medical service; prehospital emergency care; rapid response car

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Prehospital Division/Air ambulance, Ullevål University Hospital, Lørenskog, and

Publication date: May 1, 2004

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