Response impacts on treatment outcomes, particularly for time-sensitive illnesses, including trauma. This study compares key outcome measures for emergency medical services (EMS) operating in urban versus rural areas in the Riyadh region of Saudi Arabia.
A cross-sectional study of EMS users was conducted using a random sampling method. Primary outcome measures were response time, on-scene time, transport time interval and survival rates. Secondary outcomes were the length of stay in the intensive care unit and hospital. Data were compared between the urban and rural groups using the t-test and chi-square test.
Eight-hundred patients (n=400 urban, n=400 rural) were included in the final analysis. Cases in rural areas had significantly higher response times and duration times (median response 15 vs. 22 minutes, median duration 43 vs. 62 minutes). Response times were significantly longer for rural areas for MVC, industrial accidents, medical incidents and trauma, but there was no significant difference in duration time for industrial accidents. While urban areas had significantly shorter response times for all incident types, there was no difference with rural areas in duration time for chest injury, gastrointestinal, neurological or respiratory problems.
The findings indicate that response time and duration differs between urban and rural locations in a number of key areas. The factors underlying these differences need to be the subject of specific follow-up research in order to make recommendations as to the best way to improve EMS in Saudi Arabia and to close the gap in rural and urban service delivery.
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