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The ticking clock: does actively making an enhanced care team aware of the passage of time improve pre-hospital scene time following traumatic incidents?

Curtis, L., ter Avest, E., Griggs, J., Wiliams, J. and Lyon, R. M. (2020) The ticking clock: does actively making an enhanced care team aware of the passage of time improve pre-hospital scene time following traumatic incidents? Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine, 28, 31.

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Pre-hospital enhanced care teams like Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) are often dispatched to major trauma patients, including patients with traumatic brain injuries and those with major haemorrhage. For these patients, minimizing the time to definitive care is vital. The aim of this study was to determine whether increased awareness of elapsed on scene time produces a relevant time performance improvement for major trauma patients attended by HEMS, and weather introducing such a timer was feasible and acceptable to clinicians.


We performed a prospective cohort study of all single casualty traumatic incidents attended by Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (AAKSS) between 15 October 2016 and 23 May 2017 to test if introduction of a prompting scene timer within the service resulted in a reduction in pre-hospital scene times.


The majority of the patients attended were male (74%) and sustained blunt trauma (92%). Overall, median scene time was 25.5 [IQR16.3] minutes before introduction of the scene timer and 23.0 [11.0] minutes after introduction, p = 0.13). Scene times for patients with a GCS ˂ 8 and for patients requiring prehospital anaesthesia were significantly lower after introduction of the timer (28 [IQR 14] vs 25 [1], p = 0.017 and 34 [IQR 13] vs 28 [IQR11] minutes, p = 0.007 respectively). The majority of clinicians felt the timer made them more aware of passing time (91%) but that this had not made a difference to scene time (62%) or their practice (57%).


Audible scene timers may have the potential to reduce pre-hospital scene time for certain single casualty trauma patients treated by a HEMS team, particularly for those patients needing pre-hospital anaesthesia. Regular use of on-scene timers may improve outcomes by reducing time to definitive care for certain subgroups of trauma patients.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Authors :
Curtis, L.
ter Avest, E.
Wiliams, J.
Lyon, R.
Date : 29 April 2020
DOI : 10.1186/s13049-020-00726-9
Copyright Disclaimer : Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 03 Jun 2020 12:19
Last Modified : 03 Jun 2020 12:19

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