BREMSS trauma system celebrates 20th anniversary

BREMSS celebrates the 20th anniversary of the founding of the regional trauma system.

BREMSThe BREMSS communications command center is staffed by three EMS personnel 24/7.The trauma system component of BREMSS, the Birmingham Regional Emergency Medical Services System, celebrates its 20th anniversary in October. The regional trauma system was launched Oct. 2, 1996, when the Homewood Fire Department transported the system’s first trauma patient at 9:25 a.m.

Since then, 44,746 trauma patients have been served by the BREMSS trauma system by paramedics and hospitals in the BREMSS region.

BREMSS is a multijurisdictional agency that coordinates and improves prehospital medical emergency response by facilitating communication with medical response agencies, 911 centers and hospitals. BREMSS processes information from 911 centers and paramedics and directs trauma, cardiac and stroke patients to the trauma center or other facility that will give them the best chance of survival.

“Review of our local data has shown that the implementation of the regional trauma system resulted in a 12 percent reduction in trauma-related deaths,” said Jeffrey D. Kerby, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Trauma and director of the Division of Acute Care Surgery, part of the Department of Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “While it is impossible to foresee an outcome, this indicates that BREMSS trauma has potentially saved more than 5,300 people with a traumatic injury since 1996.”


“While it is impossible to foresee an outcome, this indicates that BREMSS trauma has potentially saved more than 5,300 people with a traumatic injury since 1996,” Jeff Kerby, M.D., Ph.D., director of Acute Care Surgery at UAB.
BREMSS received national recognition in 2006 upon receipt of the Mitretek/Harvard award for the most innovative Homeland Security program in the United States. In 2007, the Alabama Department of Public Health began implementing a statewide trauma system based on the BREMSS model. Today, 68 hospitals in Alabama and surrounding states participate in the state system. BREMSS and the statewide service have together served 113,867 patients.


The system was initiated by the hospitals across a six-county region of central Alabama, consisting of Jefferson, Shelby, Bibb, Walker, Blount and St. Clair counties.

The original planning group was co-chaired by Robert Carraway, M.D., of Carraway Methodist Medical Center and Richard Treat, M.D., of UAB, assisted by William Hardin, M.D., of Children’s of Alabama, based on a concept that was originally employed in the Portland, Oregon, region by Joe Acker, EMT-P, MPH, who is currently the executive director of BREMSS.

UAB provided the startup funding of $500,000 for the voluntary trauma system, which was guided during the early days by an implementation operations committee chaired by Carraway and UAB Chief Medical Officer Loring Rue, M.D.

BREMSS features a trauma communications center that is staffed around the clock. The TCC links all trauma hospitals in the region and communicates with paramedics in the field, so that trauma patients can be routed to the most appropriate facility. The on-duty staff has increased from one paramedic per shift to three paramedics on duty at all times.