EMS Provider Assessment of Vehicle Damage Compared to a Professional Crash Reconstructionist
Published Date:2011 Oct-Dec
Source:Prehosp Emerg Care. 15(4):483-489.
Pubmed Central ID:PMC3163749
Funding:1K23AG028942/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United States
5R49CE001010/CE/NCIPC CDC HHS/United States
K23 AG028942/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United States
K23 AG028942-04/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United States
To determine the accuracy of EMS provider assessments of motor vehicle damage, when compared to measurements made by a professional crash reconstructionist.
EMS providers caring for adult patients injured during a motor vehicle crash and transported to the regional trauma center in a midsized community were interviewed upon ED arrival. The interview collected provider estimates of crash mechanism of injury. For crashes that met a preset severity threshold, the vehicle’s owner was asked to consent to having a crash reconstructionist assess their vehicle. The assessment included measuring intrusion and external auto deformity. Vehicle damage was used to calculate change in velocity. Paired t-test and correlation were used to compare EMS estimates and investigator derived values.
91 vehicles were enrolled; of these 58 were inspected and 33 were excluded because the vehicle was not accessible. 6 vehicles had multiple patients. Therefore, a total of 68 EMS estimates were compared to the inspection findings. Patients were 46% male, 28% admitted to hospital, and 1% died. Mean EMS estimated deformity was 18” and mean measured was 14”. Mean EMS estimated intrusion was 5” and mean measured was 4”. EMS providers and the reconstructionist had 67% agreement for determination of external auto deformity (kappa 0.26), and 88% agreement for determination of intrusion (kappa 0.27) when the 1999 Field Triage Decision Scheme Criteria were applied. Mean EMS estimated speed prior to the crash was 48 mph±13 and mean reconstructionist estimated change in velocity was 18 mph±12 (correlation -0.45). EMS determined that 19 vehicles had rolled over while the investigator identified 18 (kappa 0.96). In 55 cases EMS and the investigator agreed on seatbelt use, for the remaining 13 cases there was disagreement (5) or the investigator was unable to make a determination (8) (kappa 0.40).
This study found that EMS providers are good at estimating rollover. Vehicle intrusion, deformity, and seatbelt use appear to be more difficult to estimate with only fair agreement with the crash reconstructionist. As expected, the EMS provider estimated speed prior to the crash does not appear to be a reasonable proxy for change in velocity.
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