A descriptive study of the "lift-assist" call

David C. Cone, John Ahern, Christopher H. Lee, Dorothy Baker, Terrence Murphy, Sandy Bogucki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Introduction. Responses for "lift assists" (LAs) are common in many emergency medical services (EMS) systems, and result when a person dials 9-1-1 because of an inability to get up, is subsequently determined to be uninjured, and is not transported for further medical attention. Although LAs often involve recurrent calls and are generally not reimbursable, little is known of their operational effects on EMS systems. We hypothesized that LAs present an opportunity for earlier treatment of subtle-onset medical conditions and injury prevention interventions in a population at high risk for falls. Objectives. To quantify LA calls in one community, describe EMS returns to the same address within 30 days following an index LA call, and characterize utilization of EMS by LA patients. Methods. Data from the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system of a suburban fire-based EMS system were retrospectively reviewed. All LAs from 2004 to 2009 were identified using "exit codes" transmitted by paramedics after each call. The number and nature of return visits to the same address within 30 days were examined. Results. From 2004 through 2009, there were 1,087 LA responses (4.8% of EMS incidents) to 535 different addresses. Two-thirds of the LA calls (726; 66.8%) were to one-third of these addresses (174 addresses; 32.5%); 563 of the return calls to the same address occurred within 30 days after the index LA. For 214 of these return visits, it was possible to compare patient age and sex with those associated with the initial LA, revealing that 85% of return visits were likely for the same patients. Of these, 38.5% were for another LA/refusal of transport, 8.2% for falls and other injuries, and 47.3% for medical complaints. Hospital transport was required in 55.5% of these return visits. The EMS crews averaged 21.5 minutes out of service per LA call. Conclusion. Lift-assist calls are associated with substantial subsequent utilization of EMS, and should trigger fall prevention and other safety interventions. Based on our data, these calls may be early indicators of medical problems that require more aggressive evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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