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Health Care District Marks 30th Anniversary of Palm Beach County’s Lifesaving Trauma System

Image of the Trauma Hawk landingOver 87,000 patients have received rapid-response, quality care since Palm Beach County’s lifesaving Trauma System took flight 30 years ago. The Health Care District of Palm Beach County recognizes the many professionals who play key roles in this integrated, round-the-clock system.

“Thanks to the skill and dedication of the professionals who support the Trauma System in Palm Beach County, tens of thousands of trauma victims have survived and returned to work and their daily lives,” said Leslie B. Daniels, Chair of the Health Care District’s Board of Commissioners. “This milestone reflects a successful public and private partnership.” 

The emergency-response Trauma System has matured into an efficient model of care that includes: the aeromedical team, comprised of Health Care District pilots, mechanics, support staff and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue flight nurses and paramedics; the public and private EMS providers, paramedics, EMTs and nurses as well as the county’s 911 communications and dispatch staff and emergency personnel who support the Trauma System’s pre-hospital component;  the trauma physicians, nurses and staff at the county’s two privately-operated Level 1 Trauma Centers and their rehabilitation facilities; and the staff of the Health Care District’s Trauma Agency, who oversee a system-wide quality management program and provide outreach and education on injury prevention. 

“The Trauma System affords patients specialized treatment that is coordinated from the moment of injury through rehabilitation,” said Darcy J. Davis, Chief Executive Officer of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. “We’re proud that our county’s Trauma System offers trauma patients the quality care necessary to save lives and promote recovery.” 

In May of 1991, the county’s Trauma System began providing lifesaving care to the first critically-injured patients at the two local trauma centers at St. Mary’s Medical Center and Delray Medical Center. The year before, the Health Care District Board launched the Aeromedical Program when it approved the purchase of the first of two Trauma Hawk helicopters. The air medical team aboard the Health Care District’s FAA-certified air ambulances includes at least one commercial instrument-rated pilot with the Health Care District along with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue medical personnel. Trauma Hawk patients receive safe and rapid air transport in a county with a land area larger than the state of Rhode Island. 

In 2020, the Trauma System treated more than 2,400 Palm Beach County residents and visitors. Today the most common type of traumatic injury in Palm Beach County are falls, followed by motor vehicle crashes. Senior adult falls comprise 29% of total trauma volume. The month of May also marks national Trauma Awareness Month.