Most paramedics can tell you which hospital is best equipped to treat severe burns, a patient exhibiting stroke symptoms or someone in cardiac arrest at 3 a.m.
But they might not know which facility can handle emergency psychiatric patients or reattach a finger that was cut off by a saw.
To make their jobs easier, the Central Ohio Trauma System created an online, updated hospital resource guide for emergency medical workers.
"It helps EMS to provide the best destination decision they can for their patients," said Nancie Bechtel, director of the trauma system. "It helps hospitals to understand what other hospitals are doing and might improve their services."
It also can serve as a tool for consumers.
"People can look it up, but if someone's in a dire circumstance and they don't know what's going on with them, they need to be transported to their closest hospital," Bechtel said.
Officials at 18 central Ohio hospitals answered questions about how they treat 11 types of patients, including pediatric, cardiac arrest, trauma and obstetrics, and the staff available to treat them.
They answered yes or no to statements such as:
* "Our (emergency department) admits patients with a diagnosis of smoke inhalation to our hospital."
* "Our hospital has a dedicated stroke unit."
* "Our hospital typically transfers patients with major trauma to another hospital."
The Madison Township Fire Department keeps laminated copies of the spreadsheets in each medic unit.
"It gives us a good inventory of what the hospitals can do in accepting patients," Assistant Chief Robert Bates said.
Delaware EMS Chief Rob Farmer said consumers could take a look at the guide to understand what hospitals provide.
"Most people have watched TV enough to figure out what they're talking about," he said.
To read the hospital guides for hospitals in Franklin County and surrounding counties, go to www.goodhealthcolumbus.org/cots/resources and scroll down to brochures and resource guides.