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A pilot project designed to give emergency room personnel more time to prepare for accident victims is set to move into its next phrase. The mobile application known as TraumaHawk is providing more lead time for ER doctors.

The emergency room at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is often a busy place with intercom announcements and phone calls but when a certain alarm sounds, it signals a personal injury vehicle accident. TraumaHawk as it’s called relays photos of the crash scene to emergency room doctors like Chris Buresh. Buresh explains that helps answer questions about what resources may be needed even before victims are transported, “Do we need to send a helicopter for this person, is a basic ambulance okay, should they go to a smaller, closer hospital or a higher level trauma center further away?”

TraumaHawk is funded by the Iowa Department of Transportation. UI Vehicle Safety Researcher Dan McGehee is helping co-ordinate the project. He says the information gathered not only helps with immediate patient care,  but it can also possibly be used in the future by automotive designers. He says “instead of telemedicine that beams vital signs about these patients, it’s about injuries from the crushing patterns of the vehicle.”

Thirty five Iowa Highway Patrol troopers throughout eastern Iowa currently use TraumaHawk. Trooper Eric Payne has been onboard since it was first rolled out in 2013. He says they’re constantly providing feedback to the University and the DOT, “they did an excellent job of tailoring it to our needs, because if it’s not working for us, we’re less apt to use it.”

Payne says he believes TraumaHawk has helped close the gap between officers in the field and those who receive the patients in the trauma center.

Research data has found that without TraumaHawk ER personnel had an average of 12 minutes lead time and with it preparation time expands to about 26 minutes.

As TraumaHawk enters its third year, more hospitals are expected to come onboard and as they do, advanced training for first responders, EMTs and law enforcement officers will continue. 

Pat Blank is the host of All Things Considered