Ambulance and helicopter response time. Association with patient outcome and illness severity: Protocol of a systematic literature review and meta-analysis

Peter Martin Hansen*, Martine Siw Nielsen, Marius Rehn, Annmarie Touborg Lassen, Søren Mikkelsen, Anders Perner, Anne Craveiro Brøchner

*Corresponding author for this work


BACKGROUND: Response time for emergency medical service units is a key performance indicator. Studies have shown reduced response time association with improved outcome for specific critical conditions. To achieve short response time, emergency vehicles utilize lights and sirens, and crews are allowed to be non-compliant with traffic rules, posing a risk for accident. The purpose of the systematic review and meta-analysis is to provide an overview of the current body of evidence regarding the association, if any, between ambulance and helicopter response time and major complications and mortality in patients conveyed by ambulance and/or helicopter. Our secondary aim will be to enhance knowledge in the field of criteria-based dispatch to provide decision makers with evidence to optimize dispatch of limited resources.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS: What is the association between overall emergency medical services unit response time and patient outcomes, major complications, and time-critical conditions? What is the internal and external validity of the included literature?

METHODS: We plan the systematic review and meta-analysis to be in accordance with the Cochrane Handbook and Joanna Briggs Institute Manual for Systematic Reviews. The methodology will include formulating the review questions using a Population, Exposure, and Outcome framework. Every study design is eligible, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods designs. We will include all articles in English, Scandinavian, German, French and Portuguese in this systematic review.

RESULTS: We will publish results from the systematic review and meta-analysis in a peer-reviewed journal and we will present the results at scientific conferences and meetings. Results will also be available at

CONCLUSION: We will base our conclusions on the findings of the review and meta-analysis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)287-296
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Aircraft
  • Ambulances
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Patient Acuity
  • Reaction Time
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • emergency medical services
  • dispatch
  • response time
  • outcome


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