TraumaHawk: Improving Treatment for Crash Victims Using Photos and a Smartphone App

(2014) TraumaHawk: Improving Treatment for Crash Victims Using Photos and a Smartphone App. Transportation, Department of


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Photographic documentation of crashed vehicles at the scene can be used to improve triage of crash victims. A U.S. expert panel developed field triage rules to determine the likelihood of occupants sustaining serious injuries based on vehicle damage that would require transport to a trauma center (Sasser et al., 2011). The use of photographs for assessing vehicle damage and occupant compartment intrusion as it correlates to increased injury severity has been validated (Davidson et al., 2014). Providing trauma staff with crash scene photos remotely could assist them in predicting injuries. This would allow trauma care providers to assess the appropriate transport, as well as develop mental models of treatment options prior to patient arrival at the emergency department (ED). Crash-scene medical response has improved tremendously in the past 20-30 years. This is in part due to the increasing number of paramedics who now have advanced life support (ALS) training that allows independence in the field. However, while this advanced training provides a more streamlined field treatment protocol, it also means that paramedics focused on treating crash victims may not have time to communicate with trauma centers regarding crash injury mechanisms. As a result, trauma centers may not learn about severe trauma patients until just a few minutes before they arrive. The information transmitted by the TraumaHawk app allows interpretation of injury mechanisms from crash scene photos at the trauma center, providing clues about the type and severity of injury. With strategic crash scene photo documentation, trained trauma professionals can assess the severity and patterns of injury based on exterior crush and occupant intrusion. Intrusion increases the force experienced by vehicle occupants, which translates into a higher level of injury severity (Tencer et al., 2005; Assal et al., 2002; Mandell et al., 2010). First responders have the unique opportunity to assess the damaged vehicle at the crash scene, but often the mechanism of injury is limited or not even relayed to ED trauma staff. To integrate photographic and scene information, an app called TraumaHawk was created to capture images of crash vehicles and send them electronically to the trauma center. If efficiently implemented, it provides the potential advantage of increasing lead-time for preparation at the trauma center through the crash scene photos. Ideally, the result is better treatment outcomes for crash victims. The objective of this analysis was to examine if the extra lead-time granted by the TraumaHawk app could improve trauma team activation time over the current conventional communication method.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Note: See also:
Keywords: Emergency medical services; Hospital emergency rooms; Injuries; Law enforcement personnel; Mobile applications; Paramedics; Smartphones; Traffic crash victims
Subjects: Transportation
Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation > Traffic safety
Transportation > Data and Information Technology
ID Code: 20839
Deposited By: Leighton Christiansen
Deposited On: 04 Dec 2015 16:47
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2015 16:47