FRIDAY, Feb. 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Longer emergency medical service (EMS) response times are associated with higher rates of motor vehicle crash (MVC) mortality, according to a study published online Feb. 6 in JAMA Surgery.

James P. Byrne, M.D., Ph.D., from the Sunnybrooke Health Sciences Center in Toronto, and colleagues examined the correlation between EMS response times and MVC mortality in a population-based study in 2,268 U.S. counties, representing an estimated population of 239,464,121 people.

The researchers identified 2,214,480 ambulance responses to MVCs during the study period. The median county response time was nine minutes; after adjustment for measures of rurality, on-scene and transport times, access to trauma resources, and traffic safety laws, there was a significant correlation for longer response times with higher rates of MVC mortality (≥12 versus <7 minutes; mortality rate ratio, 1.46). The finding was consistent in rural/wilderness and urban/suburban settings; a considerable proportion of crash fatalities (rural/wilderness, 9.9 percent; urban/suburban, 14.1 percent) were correlated with prolonged response times (median value, ≥10 and ≥7 minutes, respectively).

“These data have important implications for trauma system design and health policy because they suggest that efforts to address regional disparities in MVC mortality should evaluate EMS response times as a potential contributor,” the authors write.

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