11. tbl. 107. árg. 2021

Evaluation and management of wilderness injuries and acute illness in Iceland during the years 2017-2018

Útköll Slysavarnafélagsins Landsbjargar vegna slysa og bráðra veikinda á árunum 2017-2018

Ragna Sif Árnadóttir1

Hjalti Már Björnsson1,2


1Emergency Department, Landspítali, 2The National University Hospital of Iceland

Correspondence: Hjalti Már Björnsson, hjaltimb@landspitali.is

Key words: wilderness, emergency medical services, emergency medicine


Introduction: In Iceland, wilderness search and rescue services are provided by volunteer members of the Icelandic association for search and rescue (ICE-SAR). The rescue teams respond to about 1200 calls every year, with a significant proportion of them involving injured and sick individuals. No previous studies have been done on the service provided by ICE-SAR teams. The aim of this study was to obtain information about the health services provided by ICE-SAR in Iceland.

Material and methods: Data was obtained from the ICE-SAR‘s and the National emergency call service‘s (112) databases. Cases that occurred during the years 2017 and 2018 that required transfer and treatment at a health clinic or hospital were included in the study. All cases with no involvement of sick or injured and minor injuries managed on scene without tranport were excluded. Treatment on scene and during transport and preliminary diagnosis made by ICE-SAR teams was reviewed. The medical report at each treating medical facility in Iceland was reviewed for treatment provided and final diagnosis.

Results: A total of 189 operations with 239 individuals were included in the study. A majority of the operations were recorded in the South region of Iceland. The average age of individuals was 44,4 years, just over half of cases involving men. Accidents accounted for 86% of all cases where the most common incident was a fall resulting in lower extremity injury. Cardiac disease was the most common cause for acute medical illness. On-scene treatment and use of equipment was not recorded in over 70% of cases.

Conclusion: The ICE-SAR teams provide health care on regular basis, most commonly after accidents involving the lower extremities. Illness treated by the ICE-SAR volunteers most commonly involves cardiac symptoms. Documentation of on-site treatment and equipment use is incomplete.

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