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Emergency Medicine International
Volume 2012, Article ID 698562, 14 pages
Review Article

Helicopter EMS: Research Endpoints and Potential Benefits

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, OU Schusterman Center, 4502 East 41st Street Suite 2E14, Tulsa, OK 74135-2553, USA

Received 27 September 2011; Accepted 5 October 2011

Academic Editor: Jeffrey Goodloe

Copyright © 2012 Stephen H. Thomas and Annette O. Arthur. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Patients, EMS systems, and healthcare regions benefit from Helicopter EMS (HEMS) utilization. This article discusses these benefits in terms of specific endpoints utilized in research projects. The endpoint of interest, be it primary, secondary, or surrogate, is important to understand in the deployment of HEMS resources or in planning further HEMS outcomes research. The most important outcomes are those which show potential benefits to the patients, such as functional survival, pain relief, and earlier ALS care. Case reports are also important “outcomes” publications. The benefits of HEMS in the rural setting is the ability to provide timely access to Level I or Level II trauma centers and in nontrauma, interfacility transport of cardiac, stroke, and even sepsis patients. Many HEMS crews have pharmacologic and procedural capabilities that bring a different level of care to a trauma scene or small referring hospital, especially in the rural setting. Regional healthcare and EMS system's benefit from HEMS by their capability to extend the advanced level of care throughout a region, provide a “backup” for areas with limited ALS coverage, minimize transport times, make available direct transport to specialized centers, and offer flexibility of transport in overloaded hospital systems.