Could bystander first-aid prevent trauma deaths at the scene of injury?

Research paper by Amer A Ashour, Peter P Cameron, Stephen S Bernard, Mark M Fitzgerald, Karen K Smith, Tony T Walker

Indexed on: 24 Apr '07Published on: 24 Apr '07Published in: Emergency Medicine Australasia


To identify potentially preventable prehospital deaths following traumatic cardiac arrest.Deaths following prehospital traumatic cardiac arrest during 2003 were reviewed in the state of Victoria, Australia. Possible survival with optimal bystander first-aid and shorter ambulance response times were identified. Injury Severity Scores (ISS) were calculated. Victims with an ISS <50 and signs of life were reviewed for potentially preventable factors contributing to death including signs of airway obstruction, excessive bleeding and/or delayed ambulance response times.We reviewed 112 cases that had full ambulance care records, hospital records and autopsy details in Victoria 2003. Most deaths involved road trauma and 55 victims had an ISS <50. Twelve patients received first-aid from bystanders. Ambulance response times >10 min might have contributed to five deaths with an ISS <25.Five (4.5%) potentially preventable prehospital trauma deaths were identified. Three deaths potentially involved airway obstruction and two involved excessive bleeding. There is a case for increased awareness of the need for bystander first-aid at scene following major trauma.