Arizona Trauma Program Managers’ Efforts Underway

What are Trauma Centers?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define trauma as “an injury or wound to a living body caused by the application of external force or violence.” Trauma Centers receive triaged patients – patients based on trauma severity where critical patients are forwarded to Level I Trauma Centers and less severely injured patients to Level III and IV – and care for them based on the patient’s status. Critical patients are treated first followed by less severe patients.

Why is it important to Arizona and specifically Arizona rural communities?

When a patient is injured and requires being triaged, it is best to forward patients to the proper Level Trauma Center for several reasons:

1) their life could depend on it;

2) it is less strenuous on the patient and family to locate the patient close to home;

3) Level I Trauma Centers prioritize urgent, critical patients to save lives and may use costly resources to treat less serious patients that should have been triaged to a Level III or IV center; and

4) it could clutter Level I Trauma Centers when critical patients arrive.

Rural communities face even more challenging issues when lacking accessible Trauma Centers. For critical patients, every minute counts.

How is Arizona preparing their Trauma Centers?

Arizona’s Trauma System has grown dramatically since 2008. In 2012, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) conducted an assessment of the AZ system per ADHS request. From seven Level I Trauma Centers solely located in urban Arizona to 40 Level I, III and IV Trauma Centers – almost half located in rural areas – the Arizona Trauma System continues to expand to serve the state’s communities.

The Center for Rural Health (CRH) and the Bureau of EMS and Trauma System, Arizona Department of Health Services (BEMSTS/ADHS) co-sponsor quarterly Trauma Program Managers’ Workshops which are hosted by one of the existing Trauma Centers. 

Useful Resources

  1. ADHS Bureau of Emergency Medical Services & Trauma homepage
  2. List of Arizona State Designated Trauma Centers
  3. Arizona Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System Strategic Plan 2013-2018
  4. ADHS Trauma System Evaluation 101


Joyce Hospodar
Senior Advisor, Rural Programs
Center for Rural Health

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