The demand for prehospital advanced life support and the appropriateness of dispatch in Taipei

Tsung Chien Lu, Ying Ta Chen, Patrick Chow In Ko, Chih Hao Lin, Fuh Yuan Shih, Zui Shen Yen, Matthew Huei Ming Ma, Shyr Chyr Chen, Wen Jone Chen, Fang Yue Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Implementing prehospital advanced life support (ALS) services requires more medical and societal resources in training and equipment. The actual demand for ALS services in our communities was not clear. To ensure good use of expensive resources, it is important to evaluate the demand and appropriateness of ALS services before full-scale implementation takes place. Objective: To evaluate the rate and characteristics of demand for ALS, and the appropriateness of ALS dispatch of the emergency medical service (EMS) system in metropolitan Taipei City. Methods: A retrospective, cross-sectional analysis of the EMS records of Taipei City Fire Department from April 1999 to December 2000 was conducted. Stratified random sampling of all EMS records in the second week of January, April, July and October of 2000 were obtained, along with the corresponding ALS dispatch records. Retrospective ALS demand criteria, including the chief complaints, mechanisms of injury/illness, initial vital signs and types of care rendered, were developed to estimate the rate of ALS demand. ALS demand is expressed as the percentage of cases fulfilling ALS criteria over the total number of EMS cases. Appropriate ALS dispatches were those ALS dispatches determined as fulfilling the ALS demand criteria. Results: Among the sampled 5433 EMS cases, 490 (9.02%) were determined as a demand for ALS care. ALS demands varied from region to region, and were higher during winter months and afternoon rush hours. There were 175 actual ALS dispatches, accounting for 3.22% of the sampled EMS services. The triage performance was suboptimal: the appropriateness of ALS dispatch was 37.14%; the overtriage rate was 72.86%. Conclusion: Around nine percent of EMS calls demand ALS services. The current triage performance for proper ALS dispatch was suboptimal. A correct ALS dispatch protocol and more dispatcher training programmes should be established in the communities to ensure best use of valuable ALS resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-179
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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