Emergency medical transportation. A survey of California ambulance operations.
West IM., Gettinger CE., Meyer D., Rosenthal M., Snow R., Weiner FR., Hoaglin LM.
The most urgent recommendation expressed by physicians, Red Cross officials, ambulance operators and others polled in this ambulance survey was to make much more emergency medical care training available to ambulance personnel. Very few sick and injured receive first aid before an ambulance arrives. Therefore there is also an urgent need to train and motivate the public to provide first aid at the scene of the emergency. Urban ambulances usually respond within 10 minutes, but often rural ambulances take more than 30 minutes to reach an emergency. It is during this interim that lives which could be saved by prompt first aid are lost. Little use has been made of aircraft as emergency ambulances; in 1968, only one emergency trip in 1500 was made by helicopter. Also, California has fewer ambulances which make fewer emergency trips on a population basis than the country at large. Communications at all levels need attention. Seventy-eight percent of the ambulance operations serving the public are not listed among the emergency numbers on the inside front page of telephone directories. Less than ten percent of ambulances have direct radio communication with hospitals. In California most ambulance services are commercially operated and there are formidable financial problems which must be solved before these services can be brought into place as a part of the emergency medical care system.