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1 March 2006 Changes in Injury Patterns and Severity in a Helicopter Air-Rescue System Over a 6-Year Period
Marc Kaufmann, Berthold Moser, Wolfgang Lederer
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Objective.—To study the influence of current trends in alpine sports on the frequency and types of injuries handled by a helicopter-based emergency medical system (HEMS) in a wilderness mountain region.

Methods.—A retrospective review of medical reports at a single emergency helicopter port (Christophorus-1 air rescue) in Innsbruck, Austria, was conducted for comparison between two 3-year periods (1998–2000 and 2001–2003).

Results.—Comparing the two 3-year periods, the proportion of leisure-time injuries leading to HEMS activation increased, whereas the frequency of life-threatening injuries significantly declined (P = .001). There was significant increase in injuries during mountain hiking and rock climbing (P = .002), during swimming (P = .013), and in avalanches (P = .019). Most injuries (70.1%) were recorded for skiers, and 68.3% involved tourists. During the investigation period, the high National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics scores showed a decreasing trend, whereas Glasgow Coma Scale scores and low National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics scores tended to increase (P = .048).

Conclusions.—For the HEMS in this study, there has been an increasing number of calls for help from persons involved in outdoor leisure activities. As the number of life-threatening injuries declines, HEMSs more frequently serve as means of rescue rather than as providers of emergency treatment.

Marc Kaufmann, Berthold Moser, and Wolfgang Lederer "Changes in Injury Patterns and Severity in a Helicopter Air-Rescue System Over a 6-Year Period," Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 17(1), 8-14, (1 March 2006).[8:CIIPAS]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 March 2006

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air-medical transport
high altitude and climbing
medicine in remote environments
wilderness trauma management
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