Emergency Medical Services Utilization Is Associated With Community Deprivation in Children

Lauren C. Riney*, Cole Brokamp, Andrew F. Beck, Wendy J. Pomerantz, Hamilton P. Schwartz, Todd Adam Florin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Pediatric emergency medical services (EMS) utilization is costly and resource intensive; significant variation exists across large-scale geographies. Less is known about variation at smaller geographic levels where factors including lack of transportation, low health literacy, and decreased access to medical homes may be more relevant. Our objective was to determine whether pediatric EMS utilization varied across Hamilton County, Ohio, census tracts and whether such utilization was associated with socioeconomic deprivation. Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of children living in Hamilton County, Ohio, transported by EMS to the Cincinnati Children’s emergency department between July 1, 2014, and July 31, 2016. Participants’ addresses were assigned to census tracts and an EMS utilization rate and deprivation index were calculated for each. Pearson’s correlation coefficients evaluated relationships between tract-level EMS utilization and deprivation. Tract-level deprivation was used as a predictor in patient-level evaluations of acuity. Results: During the study period, there were 4,877 pediatric EMS transports from 219 of the 222 county census tracts. The county EMS utilization rate during the study period was 2.4 transports per 100 children (range 0.2–11). EMS utilization rates were positively correlated with increasing deprivation (r = 0.72, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.65–0.77). Deprivation was associated with lower illness severity at triage, fewer transports resulting in resuscitation suite use, and fewer transports resulting in hospitalizations (all p < 0.05). Conclusions: EMS utilization varied substantially across census tracts in Hamilton County, Ohio. A deeper understanding into why certain socioeconomically deprived areas contribute to disproportionately high rates of EMS utilization could support development of targeted interventions to improve use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2019


  • EMS utilization
  • community health
  • pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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