Changes in injury patterns and severity in a helicopter air-rescue system over a 6-year period.
ABSTRACT 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.
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).
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).
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.
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ABSTRACT: To identify search and rescue (SAR) trends in US National Park Service (NPS) units. A retrospective review of the US National Park Service Annual Search and Rescue Reports from 1992 to 2007 and the SAR statistics for all NPS units in 2005. From 1992 to 2007 there were 78,488 individuals involved in 65,439 SAR incidents. These incidents ended with 2659 fatalities, 24,288 ill or injured individuals, and 13,212 saves. On average there were 11.2 SAR incidents each day at an average cost of $895 per operation. Total SAR costs from 1992 to 2007 were $58,572 164. In 2005, 50% of the 2430 SAR operations occurred in just 5 NPS units. Grand Canyon National Park (307) and Gateway National Recreation Area (293) reported the most SAR operations. Yosemite National Park accounted for 25% of the total NPS SAR costs ($1.2 million); Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve ($29,310) and Denali National Park and Preserve ($18,345) had the highest average SAR costs. Hiking (48%) and boating (21%) were the most common activities requiring SAR assistance. Hiking (22.8%), suicides (12.1%), swimming (10.1%), and boating (10.1%) activities were the most common activities resulting in fatalities. Without the presence of NPS personnel responding to SAR incidents, 1 in 5 (20%) of those requesting SAR assistance would be a fatality. Future research and the development of any prevention efforts should focus on the 5 NPS units where 50% of all SAR incidents are occurring.Wilderness and Environmental Medicine 02/2009; 20(3):244-9. · 0.94 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background National parks are popular travel destinations worldwide. Unfortunately, negative health experiences can and do occur during travel in national parks. This study investigated search and rescue (SAR) trends associated with recreational travel in US National Park Service (NPS) units.Methods A retrospective study was conducted of the Annual US National Park Service Search and Rescue Report for the years 2003 to 2006.Results From 2003 to 2006, there were 12,337 SAR operations involving 15,537 visitors. The total operational costs were US$16,552,053. The operations ended with 522 fatalities, 4,860 ill or injured visitors, and 2,855 saves. Almost half (40%) of the operations occurred on Saturday and Sunday, and visitors aged 20 to 29 years were involved in 23% of the incidents. Males accounted for 66.3% of the visitors requiring SAR assistance. Day hiking, motorized boating, swimming, overnight hiking, and nonmotorized boating were the participant activities resulting in the most SAR operations. The vast majority of visitors requiring SAR assistance were located within a 24-hour period, and the most common rescue environments were mountain areas between 1,524 and 4,572 m, lakes, rivers, oceans, and coastal areas. An error in judgment, fatigue and physical conditions, and insufficient equipment, clothing, and experience were the most common contributing factors.Conclusions SAR incidents can be expensive and end with severe health consequences. NPS management should develop education and preventive efforts focused on hikers, boaters, and swimmers who are males and aged 20 to 29 years, addressing issues of adequate judgment, preparation, and experience.Journal of Travel Medicine 01/2009; 16(1):23 - 27. · 1.75 Impact Factor