Areas shaded in purple on this map are within 45 minutes of the kind of advanced trauma centers you’re going to need if you come off a bike and sustain a serious mechanical injury. Areas in white? Well, your mom told you motorcycles were dangerous, right? Created by the American Trauma society, the idea is to raise awareness of just how sparse top-level emergency medical care in America really is.
That 45 minutes to one hour figure is the window in which doctors who treat serious, life-threatening injuries need to get to work on you in if they’re to stand a good chance of saving your life. Crush injuries, traumatic bleeding, severe burns, brain injuries, heart attacks and stuff like that require urgent care more sophisticated than first responders can deliver in ambulances or helicopters.
As expected, most purple areas center around large population centers. Lose an arm in the northeast or near LA and you’ll probably be ok. Do the same in Appalachia or Utah and this map says you’re pretty much fucked.
This highlights an increasing stratification in care that is killing Americans in rural areas. According to Time, you’re more likely to die after being involved in a car crash in rural America than you are in a city. Doctors and care centers are going where the money is.
The interesting ramification for us motorcyclists is that many of the areas we travel to to play are outside the purple “safe” areas. Moab, the California and Arizona deserts, the north Georgia and eastern Tennessee mountains, upstate NY. These aren’t just destinations for rugged bikers bent on destruction, but playgrounds for wealthy hobbyists. The stratification of healthcare is a first world problem impacting people who typically enjoy excellent healthcare.
Writing in Time, Zachary Meisel, a professor of emergency medicine, suggests that the solution is a coordinated regional approach to healthcare directed at spreading trauma centers widely enough that an improved system of transporting those in need will enable them to reach those centers. Until then, this map enables risk takers like you and me to make informed decisions about where we travel to do what we do. Do you need to plan your next dirt bike trip somewhere purple? Doing so might save your life, but the tradeoff might be overcrowding and less impressive surroundings. Hopefully with more information you’re able to make a better choice.