Medicina (Kaunas) 2007; 43 (6): 463-471

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The ability of Lithuanian ambulance services to provide first medical aid in trauma cases

Raimondas Marozas, Rytis Rimdeika1, Nedas Jasinskas, Eglė Vaitkaitienė2, Dinas Vaitkaitis

Department of Disaster Medicine, 1Department of Surgery, 2Institute for Biomedical Research, Kaunas University of Medicine, Lithuania

Key words: first medical aid; emergency medicine quality; emergency medical procedures; emergency medicine resources.

Summary. Objective. To evaluate the ability of country ambulance services to provide first medical aid in trauma cases.

Material and methods. A survey of chiefs of emergency medicine service was performed in October–November 2005, in which 34 of the 59 institutions (58%) were participating. The questionnaire presented questions concerning physical and human resources, performance values, and system configuration.

The study has shown that emergency medicine service operates in radius of 23 km, each team providing service for about 40 000 inhabitants. Taking into consideration distance and average on-scene time values, emergency medicine service is capable to render the first medical aid within so-called “golden hour” in case the accident is reported immediately. The physical resources are not quite complete. Not all the cars are equipped with essential first aid measures. Among more rarely found resources are vacuum pumps, intubation sets, defibrillators, vacuum splints, back immobilization devices, and hammock immobilization devices. There are less mentioned resources than working teams and even more than two times less than emergency cars at all. Two-thirds of the operating emergency medicine services do not provide advanced life support procedures. The evaluation of theoretical/practical ability to provide some important medical procedures used in emergency medical care showed that medical staff quite often fails to perform defibrillation, intubation, and pleural cavity drainage.

Conclusions. Country ambulance service network configuration according to area under service, number of people served, and response frequency comply with the requirement set. The ambulance vehicles lack complete set up as well as some important supplies. Only rarely the staff is skilled enough to perform such advanced life support procedures as intubation, defibrillation, and pleural drainage.

Correspondence to R. Marozas, Department of Disaster Medicine, Kaunas University of Medicine, Eivenių 4-413, 50009 Kaunas, Lithuania. E-mail:

Received 7 August 2006, accepted 6 June 2007