What is EMS ?
EMS stands for Emergency Medical Services. EMS provides medical care outside of the hospital or medical office setting. Most often, people call EMS when they have had an accident or are experiencing a medical emergency. Emergencies might include heart attack, difficulty breathing, falls, accidents, drowning, cardiac arrest, stroke, drug overdose and acute illnesses. EMS services may provide both basic and advanced medical care at the scene of an emergency and en route to a hospital.
What is an EMS system?
EMS is much more than an ambulance service. The delivery of emergency medical care is made up of many parts, together which are called the EMS system. The EMS system includes the call center that receives the call for and dispatches help, those who respond first (such as police officers and firefighters), an ambulance transportation team of EMTs and/or Paramedics, physicians and nurses who provide advice via radio or phone, air medical services (helicopters and small airplanes), hospital receiving facilities, governmental and medical oversight.
Who provides EMS ?
When a person becomes ill or injured and dials 911 or another emergency phone number, the call is answered by an Emergency Medical Dispatcher, who is trained to obtain important information from the caller about the location and type of emergency. The dispatcher may give the caller patient care instructions while sending emergency responders to the scene of the emergency. These responders may be trained to different levels:
First Responders (who have about 50 hours of training);
EMT-Basics (who have about 160 hours of training);
EMT-Intermediates (who have about 680 hours of training); and
Paramedics (who have 1,100 or more hours of training).
Each of these levels of EMS responders is trained to perform different kinds of skills to assist the patient.
EMS responders work under protocols approved by a physician Medical Director. Many of these Medical Directors are members of the National Association of EMS Physicians. The Medical Director oversees the care of patients in the EMS system, and he or she is knowledgeable about patient care interventions and how EMS systems deliver care. Typically, EMS Medical Directors work in conjunction with local EMS leaders to assure quality patient care as approved by the State.