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What can your smartphone do—check email? Post pictures to social media? Save lives?

Saving lives is what TraumaHawk is all about. A smartphone app developed in cooperation with the University of Iowa and the Iowa DOT, TraumaHawk connects law enforcement to hospital trauma teams, providing critical additional time in preparation of patient arrival.

A few years ago, our researchers were disturbed to discover that, on average, staff at the UI Hospitals and Clinics only had seven to eight minutes of notice before an ambulance arrived with a crash victim. Since then, in 75% of cases where TraumaHawk has been utilized, alerts have increased the average advance notice time from 9-29 minutes. The maximum amount of time a TraumaHawk alert provided advance notice was 90 minutes.

How does this happen? At the scene of a motor vehicle crash, state patrol deputies can use TraumaHawk to quickly generate a report that includes vital collision information along with photographs of the vehicle damage. This report is then transmitted to the hospital emergency department, providing critical additional minutes for preparation. With these images and information, trained professionals are able to assess patterns of injury based on crush and intrusion patterns of the damaged vehicle.

The benefits are clear. With more time to prepare for the arrival of trauma patients, emergency department staff are better able to plan how many and what kinds of staff members and supplies are needed and anticipate the types of injuries. Staff has more information to diagnose injuries and there is better utilization of hospital resources. This advanced notice of crash severity and location can help save lives.

TraumaHawk continues to develop. Researchers are currently working to expand use of the TraumaHawk app with Iowa State Patrol troopers in east-central Iowa and other parts of the state. Additionally, researchers hope to soon expand TraumaHawk’s service area to central Iowa and the state’s other Level I trauma center, Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines.

First released in 2013 for use by Iowa State Patrol troopers in the Iowa City area, the initial TraumaHawk project was sponsored by the Iowa DOT and developed by researchers at the University of Iowa.


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