Improving Emergency Medical Service Response to Motor Vehicle Crashes in American Indian Reservations

Principal Investigator:

  • Kathryn Quick, Assistant Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Guillermo Narvaez, Research Associate, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project Summary:

This study's purpose is to identify needs and recommend interventions to improve emergency medical services (EMS) response to motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) in American Indian reservations. This project relates strongly to the Roadway Safety Institute's (RSI) focus on safety on tribal lands and safety policy. It also relates to RSI's goals to promote implementation to improve roadway safety and develop partnerships with government agencies. MVCs are the leading cause of unintentional injury for American Indians ages 1 to 44, whose MVC fatality rate is the highest of any United States ethnic or racial group. While the gap may be narrowing, MVC impacts for American Indians remain unacceptably high. Little research has been conducted to explain the risk factors or test interventions. Previous research created innovative methodologies to collect local knowledge about reservation roadway safety. Those results and a literature review were then used to help the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Tribal Transportation Program design a national survey of tribes. When asked which were the top three sources of roadway safety risk on their reservations, 18 percent of 150 tribal government respondents selected "slow emergency response time." The survey indicates, in the informed opinion of the people with the greatest knowledge and interest in roadway safety on reservations, that inadequate EMS response is a critical problem. The California Tribal Road Safety Data Project has gathered similar data. Emergency response barriers may include the condition of the roadway, access and connectivity to remote areas, long travel times to trauma centers, and poor address and mapping data for emergency dispatch. Data from previous research suggest Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities and coordination among EMS agencies may improve response. However, no systematic research has been done to identify what the EMS problem is. This project will fill a critical knowledge gap for effective interventions.

Project Details:

  • Start date: 02/2018
  • Project Status: Active
  • Research Area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow

Browse research by: