Last week's announcement by the US Transportation Secretary
that traffic fatalities have reached the lowest levels in 60 years overlooked an important contributor: EMS. NHTSA Administrator David Strickland cited increased seat belt use and tougher drunk driving enforcement as key contributors to the decline in traffic deaths. There was no mention of EMS. This is a grim reminder that we need better methods of documenting the outcomes of care we provide on the streets and highways of our great nation. No doubt seat belts, airbags, safer vehicle design and improved traffic enforcement all reduce deaths and injuries on our roadways. But, according to the CDC, so does expeditous transport to a Level I Trauma center when initiated by savvy EMS providers who recognize a need for specialty care. I'll bet permissive hypotension, capnography, better pain management, and improved tactics also reduce mortality. It's time to let NHTSA, DOT, the CDC and our communities know about the EMS contribution to reduced injuries and deaths. If we don't, no one will ever know.