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The preparedness level of Finnish Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for treating chemical emergencies is unknown. The aim of this study was to survey the preparedness level of EMS systems for managing and handling mass-casualty chemical incidents in the prehospital phase in Finland.
The study hypothesis was that university hospital districts would have better clinical capability to treat patients than would central hospital districts in terms of the number of patients treated in the field within one hour after dispatching as well as patients transported to hospital within one hour or two hours after dispatching.
This cross-sectional study was conducted as a Webropol (Wuppertal, Germany) survey. All hospital districts (n=20) in continental Finland were asked about their EMS preparedness level in terms of capability of treating and transporting chemically affected patients in the field. Their capability for decontamination of affected patients in the field was also inquired.
University hospital district-based EMS systems had at least 20% better absolute clinical capacity than central hospital-based EMS systems for treating chemically affected patients concerning all treatments inquired about, except the capacity for non-invasive ventilation (NIV)/continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment in the field. Overall, there was a good level of preparedness for treating chemical accident patients with supplemental oxygen, bronchodilators, and inhaled corticosteroids. Preparedness for providing antidote therapy in cases of cyanide gas exposure was, in general, low. The variation among the hospital districts was remarkable. Only nine of 15 central hospital district EMS had a mobile decontamination unit available, whereas four of five university hospital districts had one.
Emergency Medical Services capacity in Finland for treating chemically affected patients in the field needs to be improved, especially in terms of antidote therapy. Mobile decontamination units should be available in all hospital districts.
JamaTJ, KuismaMJ. Preparedness of Finnish Emergency Medical Services for Chemical Emergencies. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(4):392–396.
On-scene time (OST) previously has been shown to be a significant component of Emergency Medical Services’ (EMS’) operational delay in acute stroke. Since stroke patients are managed routinely by two-person ambulance crews, increasing the number of personnel available on the scene is a possible method to improve their performance.
Using fire engine crews to support ambulances on the scene in acute stroke is hypothesized to be associated with a shorter OST.
All patients transported to hospital as thrombolysis candidates during a one-year study period were registered by the ambulance crews using a case report form that included patient characteristics and operational EMS data.
Seventy-seven patients (41 [53%] male; mean age of 68.9 years [SD=15]; mean Glasgow Coma Score [GCS] of 15 points [IQR=14-15]) were eligible for the study. Forty-five cases were managed by ambulance and fire engine crews together and 32 by the ambulance crews alone. The median ambulance response time was seven minutes (IQR=5-10) and the fire engine response time was six minutes (IQR=5-8). The number of EMS personnel on the scene was six (IQR=5-7) and two (IQR=2-2), and the OST was 21 minutes (IQR=18-26) and 24 minutes (IQR=20-32; P =.073) for the groups, respectively. In a following regression analysis, using stroke as the dispatch code was the only variable associated with short (<22 minutes) OST with an odds ratio of 3.952 (95% CI, 1.279-12.207).
Dispatching fire engine crews to support ambulances in acute stroke care was not associated with a shorter on-scene stay when compared to standard management by two-person ambulance crews alone. Using stroke as the dispatch code was the only variable that was associated independently with a short OST.
PuolakkaT, VäyrynenT, ErkkiläE-P, KuismaM. Fire Engine Support and On-scene Time in Prehospital Stroke Care – A Prospective Observational Study. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(3):278–281.
International mass gatherings can cause great challenges to local healthcare system and emergency medical services (EMS). Traditionally, planning has been based on retrospective reports of previous events, but there still is a need for prospective studies in order to make the process more evidence-based. The aim of this study was to analyze the success of medical preparedness, ambulance patient characteristics, emergency care, and the use of pre-hospital resources during the 2005 World Championship Games in Athletics in Helsinki, Finland.
The study was a prospective, observational study conducted within the Helsinki EMS. Data from all emergency calls at the sport venues and Games village between 05 and 14 August 2005 were collected. Data from the organizations responsible for the health care and first aid of spectators and accredited persons (e.g., athletes, coaches, the press, very important persons and personnel working in the Games area) also were collected. The Institutional Review Board of Helsinki University Central Hospital approved the study plan.
A total of 479,000 persons visited the Games. The ambulance call incidence at the Olympic Stadium was 0.50 per 10,000 people and 0.7 per 10,000 when the Games Village was included. The overall need for ambulance transportation to the emergency department was 0.52 per 10,000. No patients needed cardiopulmonary resuscitation or other immediate, life-saving procedures on-site. First aid was provided to 554 spectators (0.17per 10,000 people). The three medical organizations cared for 1,586 patients of which 25 (1.6%) were transported to a hospital by an ambulance. The number of patients needing transportation and the overall patient loadfor the healthcare system was well-anticipated. Accredited persons sought health care a total of 1,009 times.The number of patients treated was associated closely with the number of spectators (p = 0.05). The number of ambulance calls in the city increased 5.9 % as compared to the corresponding time period in the five previous years.
The medical preparedness and resources for the Games proved to be sufficient. The EMS personnel were able to provide quality emergency care. This prospective study provided new, detailed data for the medical aspects of mass gatherings and confirmed many previous observations.
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