CONWAY, AR -- For years, the Med Center in Memphis served as the closest trauma hospital.
That long trip cost many lives.
But after state lawmakers passed the tobacco tax in 2009 to provide funding to create trauma centers, now more than 95 percent of our hospitals are able to treat us in our most desperate hour.
"The resources given to the trauma system have been used wisely, and they've showed great benefit to get the patient to the right place the first time," said Dr. Tom Maxson of Arkansas Children's Hospital.
State health leaders highlighted the gains made over the past year, particularly the advanced level of communication between hospitals and emergency call centers.
"If the patient gets to a smaller hospital and needs to be transferred, we've cut that time down from hours to minutes," Maxson said.
There's always room for improvement.
"It's really now a process of quality improvement of using data that we are gathering to identify problems and improve patient care," said Dr. Jim Graham of UAMS.
That data allows doctors to analyze a patient's experience from the ambulance ride until they leave the hospital and see what can be done differently.
"Arkansas has really leapfroged most of the states in the Union, and it really is to first of all the funding that's been available to the state to make the rapid improvement," Maxson said.
While many of the state's hospitals are designated as trauma centers, twenty more will be added to the list early next year.