A Retrospective study of the pre-hospital trauma burden managed by the Western Cape Government Emergency Medical Services

  • Naseef Abdullah None
  • Colleen Saunders
  • Michael McCaul
  • Peter Nyasulu


Background: Trauma is one of the leading causes of premature death and disability in South Africa. There is a lack of data describing the pre-hospital trauma burden in sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed to describe the epidemiology of common trauma emergencies managed by the Western Cape Government (WCG) emergency medical services (EMS) in South Africa.

Methods: The WCG EMS call centre registry was retrospectively analysed for all trauma patients managed between 01 July 2017 to 30 June 2018. A descriptive analysis of the data was performed using standard procedures for all variables. To date, this Is the first analysis of this dataset or any prehospital trauma burden managed in the Western Cape of South Africa.

Results: The WCG EMS managed 492 303 cases during the study period. Of these, 168 980 (34.3%), or 25.5 per 1000 population, were trauma related. However, only 91 196 met the inclusion criteria for the study. The majority of patients (66.4%) were men between the socio-economically active ages of 21–40 years (54.0%). Assaults were the most common cause of trauma emergencies, accounting for 50.2% of the EMS caseload. The patient acuity was categorised as urgent in 47.5% of the cases, and 74.9% of the prehospital trauma burden was transported to a secondary level health care facility for definitive care.

Conclusion: This is the first report on the prehospital trauma burden managed in the Western Cape of South Africa. The Western Cape suffers a unique trauma burden that differs from what is described by the World Health Organization (WHO) or any other low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). It also provides the foundation for further research on emergency care needs in South Africa and support for Afrocentric health care solutions to address this public health crisis.

Author Biography

Naseef Abdullah, None
Operational paramedic


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Original Research