Utilization of warning lights and siren based on hospital time-critical interventions

Andreia Marques-Baptista, Pamela Ohman-Strickland, Kimberly T. Baldino, Michael Prasto, Mark A. Merlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the time saved by usage of lights and siren (L&S) during emergency medical transport and measure the total number of time-critical hospital interventions gained by this time difference.Methods: A retrospective study was performed of all advanced life support (ALS) transports using lights and siren to this university emergency department during a three-week period. Consecutive times were measured for 112 transports and compared with measured transport times for a personal vehicle traveling the same day of the week and time of day without lights and siren. The time-critical hospital interventions are defined as procedures or treatments that could not be performed in the prehospital setting requiring a physician. The project assessed whether the patients received the hospital interventions within the average time saved using lights and siren transport.Results: The average difference in time with versus without L&S was-2.62 minutes (95% CI:-2.60-2.63, paired t-test p <0.0001). The average transport time with L&S was 14.5 ±7.9 minutes (min) (1 standard deviation/minute (min), range = 1-36 min.). The average transport time without L&S was 17.1 ±8.3 min (range = 1-40 min). Of the 112 charts evaluated, five patients (4.5%) received time-critical hospital interventions. No patients received time-critical interventions within the time saved by utilizing lights and siren. Longer distances did not result in time saved with lights and siren.Conclusions: Limiting lights and siren use to the patients requiring hospital interventions will decrease the risks of injury and death, while adding the benefit of time saved in these critical patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-339
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


  • accidents
  • ambulance
  • emergency
  • lights
  • prehospital
  • siren


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