University of Oulu

Saviluoto, A., Björkman, J., Olkinuora, A. et al. The first seven years of nationally organized helicopter emergency medical services in Finland – the data from quality registry. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med 28, 46 (2020).

The first seven years of nationally organized helicopter emergency medical services in Finland : the data from quality registry

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Author: Saviluoto, Anssi1,2; Björkman, Johannes1,3; Olkinuora, Anna1;
Organizations: 1Research and Development Unit, FinnHEMS, WTC Helsinki Airport, Lentäjäntie 3, FI-01530, Vantaa, Finland
2University of Eastern Finland, PO Box 1627, FI-70211, Kuopio, Finland
3University of Helsinki, PO Box 4, FI-00014, Helsinki, Finland
4Prehospital Emergency Care, Hyvinkää hospital area, Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, PO Box 585, FI-05850, Hyvinkää, Finland
5Emergency Medical Services, Tampere University Hospital, PO Box 2000, FI-33521, Tampere, Finland
6Centre for Prehospital Emergency Care, Oulu University Hospital, PO Box 50, FI-90029, Oulu, Finland
7Center for Prehospital Emergency Care, Kuopio University Hospital, PO Box 100, FI-70029, Kuopio, Finland
8Emergency Medical Services, Turku University Hospital and University of Turku, PO Box 52, FI-20521, Turku, Finland
9Emergency Medicine and Services, Helsinki University Hospital and Emergency Medicine, University of Helsinki, PO Box 100, FI-00029, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-07-06


Background: Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) play an important role in prehospital care of the critically ill. Differences in funding, crew composition, dispatch criteria and mission profile make comparison between systems challenging. Several systems incorporate databases for quality control, performance evaluation and scientific purposes. FinnHEMS database was incorporated for such purposes following the national organization of HEMS in Finland 2012. The aims of this study are to describe information recorded in the database, data collection, and operational characteristics of Finnish HEMS during 2012–2018.

Methods: All dispatches of the six Finnish HEMS units recorded in the national database from 2012 to 2018 were included in this observational registry study. Five of the units are physician staffed, and all are on call 24/7. The database follows a template for uniform reporting in physician staffed pre-hospital services, exceeding the recommended variables of relevant guidelines.

Results: The study included 100,482 dispatches, resulting in 33,844 (34%) patient contacts. Variables were recorded with little or no missing data. A total of 16,045 patients (16%) were escorted by HEMS to hospital, of which 2239 (2%) by helicopter. Of encountered patients 4195 (4%) were declared deceased on scene. The number of denied or cancelled dispatches was 66,638 (66%). The majority of patients were male (21,185, 63%), and the median age was 57.7 years. The median American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Scale classification was 2 and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance class 0. The most common reason for response was trauma representing 26% (8897) of the patients, followed by out-of-hospital cardiac arrest 20% (6900), acute neurological reason excluding stroke 13% (4366) and intoxication and related psychiatric conditions 10% (3318). Blunt trauma (86%, 7653) predominated in the trauma classification.

Conclusions: Gathering detailed and comprehensive data nationally on all HEMS missions is feasible. A national database provides valuable insights into where the operation of HEMS could be improved. We observed a high number of cancelled or denied missions and a low percentage of patients transported by helicopter. The medical problem of encountered patients also differs from comparable systems.

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Series: Scandinavian journal of trauma, resuscitation and emergency medicine
ISSN: 1757-7241
ISSN-E: 1757-7241
ISSN-L: 1757-7241
Volume: 28
Issue: 1
Article number: 46
DOI: 10.1186/s13049-020-00739-4
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3126 Surgery, anesthesiology, intensive care, radiology
Funding: This research was funded by Helsinki University Hospital (state funding, VTR TYH2019243) and FinnHEMS Research and Development Unit.
Copyright information: © The Author(s). 2020. 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.