Motor Vehicle Crash Victims Need Help Getting Emergency Medical Care to Save Lives and Livelihoods
Everyone is a crash victim (present, past, and future) in one way or another. As a result of crash injuries, we, our families, and friends, suffer physically, emotionally and economically. And we all suffer financially as payers of taxes and fees, insurance premiums, and other costs.
Some statistics on the problem of motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. will provide some perspective on the great need for improved care for crash victims.
- Historically in the U.S., motor vehicle crashes have killed nearly 3.5 million people and injured more than 300 million. This is more than 3 times the number of Americans killed and 200 times the number wounded in all wars since 1776. Since 1978, when NHTSA began counting fatalities, more than 1,350,000 people have died along U.S. roads.
- Currently, in crashes each year about 40,000 people are killed (~110/day on average), nearly 200,000 seriously injured (~500/day on average), and nearly 750,000 hospitalized (~2,000/day).
- The costs of crash injuries incurred in the U.S., each year, are estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to NHTSA, each year the costs of crash injuries amount to about $100 Billion in economic costs and $300 Billion in comprehensive costs. DOT currently attributes costs ranging from $333,000 for a serious injury to $5,800,000 for a fatality.
We can and must do better at reducing motor vehicle crash tragedies. As demonstrated by the crash on April 12, 2007, and the air medical rescue, and treatment of Governor Corzine, we can save more lives with faster and better emergency care. Currently, when serious crashes occur, the rescue resources that arrive at the crash scene are too little, too late, too often.
- If one looks at 2006 statistics, about 25,000 people who died of injuries in crashes were not taken to any medical facility for treatment. Those not taken are now 58% of the people killed each year. Many of the remaining 42% who were taken, received less than timely, optimal care, and later died of their injuries.
- Currently, the ~200,000 people seriously injured in crashes each year suffer disabilities from brain injuries, spinal cord injuries (including quadriplegia and paraplegia), disfiguring burns, and from crippling orthopedic trauma. Many of these injuries have catastrophic long term consequences for individuals, families, and society due to lack of timely, optimal quality care.
Emergency Medical Care for Tomorrow – Smarter, Faster, Better
Improved care for crash victims can be achieved with three new tools.
First, today we have Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) systems in about five million cars (most by OnStar). Second, a computerized database, the Atlas and Database of Air Medical Services (ADAMS) has been published annually for the last six years to improve care for crash victims. Third, researchers have been developing URGENCY software since 1996 to improve dispatch decision-making for crash victims.
These three tools need to be combined into ACN-ADAMS-URGENCY software that can instantly compute information on crash location, crash severity, probability of serious injury, distances and times from HEMS bases, and distances and transport times from trauma centers for more intelligent emergency responses.
A report published by NHTSA found that the potential of ACN to reduce deaths and disabilities is estimated at 20%. These benefits are expected when ACN is combined with ADAMS and URGENCY into EMS dispatch software applied in a network of communication links with air medical services and trauma centers.
Tomorrow with ACN-ADAMS-URGENCY dispatch software we will save lives and livelihoods. When a crash occurs, within a minute, 9-1-1, Police, Fire, EMS, Air Medical Services, Hospitals and Trauma Centers will simultaneously be alerted of high severity crashes. Algorithm based software will produce actionable information on the location and the severity of the crash, the relative times of arrival at scene, and the fastest possible transport times to definitive care for the seriously injured via air and/or ground.
Informed dispatch decisions will be based on tangible, objective, data on crash force measurements, estimated probability of serious injuries, and availability of EMS rescue and trauma treatment resources. ACN-ADAMS-URGENCY software will help dispatchers make decisions that are better and faster for crash victims needing lifesaving care.
Three Steps To A Safer America
- All new cars and trucks will have Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) Systems (not just GM, BMW, and Mercedes).
- ACN electronic communication links will be established to all Trauma Centers and Air Medical Services for crashes with a high probability of serious injuries.
- Deployment of the ACN-ADAMS-URGENCY software tool will help make wiser medical decisions on when and where to transport crash victims with a high probability of serious injuries (estimated cost of about $2 million per year, or far less than the dollar value assigned by DOT to one life saved).