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Inside Eastern Wisconsin's Only Adult Level I Trauma Center

Marc de Moya, MD, trauma surgeon, and Terri deRoon-Cassini, MS, PhD, trauma psychologist, provide a unique look inside the Trauma Center at Froedtert Hospital in this two-part series from Wisconsin Public Radio.

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When an adult suffers a traumatic injury, our Trauma Center is ready to respond 24 hours a day. The Trauma Center combines the latest technology with exceptional staff to provide the highest level of care to trauma patients in the region.

It is the only adult Level I Trauma Center in eastern Wisconsin. Severely injured patients from as far away as Pierce, Rusk and Oneida counties in Wisconsin are brought to the Trauma Center for life-saving care.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is any serious injury caused by an external force, such as a motor vehicle crash, falls, violence, sports- or recreational-related injuries and job-related injuries.

What Does “Level I” Mean?

The Trauma Center is classified as “Level I,” which means it provides the highest level of specialty expertise and meets strict national standards. Specialized teams, facilities and equipment are available around the clock, 365 days a year, to treat life-threatening injuries.

A trauma center is not the same as a hospital emergency department; emergency services are a critical component of a comprehensive trauma program. A Level I facility must have the capability of providing total care for every aspect of injury, from injury prevention to rehabilitation.

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Learn how to prevent injury with our full range of programs and resources!

A Level I trauma center is required to:

  • Have prompt availability of specialists in trauma surgery, orthopaedic surgery, neurosurgery, surgical critical care, rehabilitation medicine and emergency medicine to adequately respond to and care for the various forms of trauma. In addition, specialists in anesthesiology, radiology, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery and internal medicine also need to be readily available.
  • Have an operating room dedicated solely to trauma patients.
  • Provide injury prevention programs in the community.
  • Provide professional education for physicians, nurses, emergency medical services personnel and physician liaisons.
  • Conduct resident training in general surgery, orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery.
  • Conduct research — a commitment to research is primarily what separates Level I trauma centers from Level II trauma centers. At Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, a strong relationship between Medical College of Wisconsin researchers and care providers keeps the Trauma Center on the leading edge of the latest advances in trauma care.

Level I trauma centers in most states, including Wisconsin, are designated by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) for three-year periods. Lower levels of trauma care are provided by trauma centers that have Level II, Level III and Level IV designations.

Stop the Bleed logoOur Trauma Center offers "Stop the Bleed" information and training. Stop the Bleed training can help you save a life if you're a bystander to trauma. The goal is teach you how to stop uncontrolled bleeding with basic hemorrhage control techniques, such as pressure, packing or a tourniquet.

Trauma Center Statistics

In 2018, 3,454 severely injured patients were seen in the Trauma Center. The Froedtert & MCW health network is proud to support this vital community resource to improve the health of the populations we serve.

  • Falls remained the greatest cause of traumatic injury among patients at the trauma center, accounting for 42% of cases — closely followed by motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes (26%).
  • Most patients (56%) in 2016 arrived at the Trauma Center via advanced life support transport (paramedic).

Read the Trauma Center Annual Report

Regional System of Care

The Trauma Center is the hub of a complete system of care serving the entire region. Before a patient arrives at the Trauma Center, many other professionals are involved, including:

  • Skilled 911 dispatchers
  • Firefighters and police officers, who are often the first to respond at the scene of an injury
  • Paramedics, who perform life-saving care and transport patients to the Trauma Center
  • Flight For Life, staffed with flight nurses and flight paramedics or physicians for rapid transport of patients to the Trauma Center from an injury scene or transfer from another hospital.

The Trauma Center is a member of regional and state organizations dedicated to coordinating trauma care and preventing injuries, including the South East Regional Trauma Advisory Council (SERTAC). In addition, Medical College of Wisconsin faculty members hold positions on the state Trauma Advisory Committee, the state EMS Physician Advisory Committee for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and serve as the current State Trauma System Medical Director.

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