Coming in hot: Police transport and prehospital time after firearm injury

Eric Winter, James P. Byrne, Allyson M. Hynes, Zhi Geng, Mark J. Seamon, Daniel N. Holena, Neil R. Malhotra, Jeremy W. Cannon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND In Philadelphia, PA, police and emergency medical services (EMS) transport patients with firearm injuries. Prior studies evaluating this system have lacked reliable prehospital times. By linking police and hospital data sets, we established a complete timeline from firearm injury to outcome. We hypothesized that police-Transported patients have shorter prehospital times that, in turn, are associated with improved survival and increased unexpected survivorship at 6 and 24 hours. METHODS This retrospective study linked patient-level data from OpenDataPhilly Shooting Victims and the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation. All adults transported to a Level I or II trauma center after firearm injury in Philadelphia from 2015 to 2018 were included. Patient-level characteristics were compared between cohorts; unexpected survivors were identified using Trauma Score-Injury Severity Score. Multiple regression estimated risk-Adjusted associations between transport method, prehospital time, and outcomes. RESULTS Police-Transported patients (n = 977) had significantly shorter prehospital times than EMS-Transported patients (n = 320) (median, 9 minutes [interquartile range, 7-12 minutes] vs. 21 minutes [interquartile range, 16-29 minutes], respectively; p < 0.001). Police-Transported patients were more often severely injured than those transported by EMS (60% vs. 50%, p = 0.002). After adjusting for confounders, police-Transported patients had improved survival relative to EMS on hospital arrival (87% vs. 84%, respectively, p = 0.035), but not at 6 hours (79% vs. 78%, respectively, p = 0.126) or 24 hours after arrival (76% vs. 76%, respectively, p = 0.224). Compared with EMS, police-Transported patients were significantly more likely to be unexpected survivors at 6 hours (6% vs. 2%, respectively, p < 0.001) and 24 hours (3% vs. 1%, respectively, p = 0.021). CONCLUSION Police-Transported patients had more severe injuries, shorter prehospital times, and increased likelihood of unexpected survival compared with EMS-Transported patients. After controlling for confounders, patient physiology and injury severity represent meaningful determinants of mortality in our mature trauma system, indicating an ongoing opportunity to optimize in-hospital care. Future studies should investigate causes of death among unexpected early survivors to mitigate preventable mortality. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Prognostic/Epidemiological, Level III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-663
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Trauma surgery
  • outcomes
  • police transport
  • prehospital time
  • transport time


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