2021 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Fact Sheet: Emergency Medical Services


There are typically many contributing factors in motor vehicle crashes. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) play a critical role post-crash to reduce fatalities and serious injuries. Recent studies show that an effective emergency trauma care system can improve survival from serious injuries by as much as 25 percent and county-level coordinated systems of trauma care can reduce crash fatalities rates as much as 50 percent.

The Haddon Matrix (see Figure 1) applies basic principles of public health to motor vehicle-related injuries. The matrix looks at the factors in the pre-crash, crash, and post-crash phases to see how the driver, vehicle, and environment affect the outcome. Specifically, it identifies the factors that impact the prevention, severity, and survivability of crashes. For EMS, some factors are response time, proximity to an appropriate trauma center, and access to first responders with the appropriate equipment and training.

The national 911 system was implemented over 50 years ago to provide efficient public access to emergency assistance. While effective, the 911 system must also evolve with technological improvements. A 911 system update is planned in the near future which will allow users to securely send text messages, video, and photos to 911, and in turn allow 911 dispatchers to transmit this information along with location information on to first responders. This enhanced 911 system will allow first responders to more accurately locate crash victims to assess their injuries, thereby improving patient outcomes. In 2019, 33 states - including California - the District of Columbia, and two tribal nations were awarded grant funding to upgrade their Next Generation 911 capabilities.

Garrett Fortin
Jill F. Cooper
Publication date: 
September 30, 2021
Publication type: 
Fact Sheet