According to the American Trauma Society, trauma is the number one cause of death in the United States for persons under the age of 44. Trauma is defined as an acute personal wound or injury requiring immediate care. Between 140,000 and 160,000 trauma-related deaths occur nationwide every year. For each death, at least two permanent disabilities occur.
The total annual cost of accidental death and disability in the United States is estimated to exceed $110 billion. Despite the staggering cost, trauma remains “the neglected disease.” Medical treatment of trauma within the first hour, often referred to as the “Golden Hour,” can prevent 20–30 percent of potential deaths and dramatically reduce hospitalization times. Helicopter air ambulance programs are a key resource in delivering trauma victims to trauma centers within the “Golden Hour.”
Frequently, patients accepted by a hospital for routine care develop complications requiring immediate transport to another hospital for specialized treatment. Patient time outside the hospital environment and the level of patient care required are important transport considerations. Ground ambulance services are not normally staffed to provide the level of patient care required by many critically ill patients. In remote areas, ground transport can be time consuming, and commitments to county emergency services often limit its availability. CALSTAR staffs every flight with two critical care registered nurses, ready to provide the highest level of pre-hospital care to anyone in need, 24 hours a day.