Characteristics of out-of-hospital paediatric emergencies attended by ambulance- and helicopter-based emergency physicians.

Resuscitation 2009 Aug 10;80(8):888-92. Epub 2009 Jun 10.

Department of Anaesthesiology, Emergency and Intensive Care Medicine, University Medical Centre Göttingen, 37075 Gottingen, Germany.

Background: In Germany, as in many other countries, for the vast majority of cases, critical out-of-hospital (OOH) paediatric emergencies are attended by non-specialised emergency physicians (EPs). As it is assumed that this may lead to deficient service we aimed to gather robust data on the characteristics of OOH paediatric emergencies.

Methods: We retrospectively evaluated all OOH paediatric emergencies (0-14 years) within a 9-year period and attended by physician-staffed ground- or helicopter-based emergency medical service (EMS or HEMS) teams from our centre.

Results: We identified 2271 paediatric emergencies, making up 6.3% of all cases (HEMS 8.5%). NACA scores IV-VII were assigned in 27.3% (HEMS 32.0%). The leading diagnosis groups were age dependent: respiratory disorders (infants 34.5%, toddlers 21.8%, school children 15.0%), convulsions (17.2%, 43.2%, and 16.0%, respectively), and trauma (16.0%, 19.5%, and 44.4%, respectively). Endotracheal intubation was performed in 4.2% (HEMS 7.6%) and intraosseous canulation in 0.7% (HEMS 1.0%) of children. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was commenced in 2.3% (HEMS 3.4%). Thoracocentesis, chest drain insertion and defibrillation were rarities. HEMS physicians attended a particularly high fraction of drowning (80.0%), head injury (73.9%) and SIDS (60.0%) cases, whereas 75.6% of all respiratory emergencies were attended by ground-based EPs.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that EPs need to be particularly confident with the care of children suffering respiratory disorders, convulsions, and trauma. The incidence of severe paediatric OOH emergencies requiring advanced interventions is higher in HEMS-attended cases. However, well-developed skills in airway management, CPR, and intraosseous canulation in children are essential for all EPs.

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