Medical Oversight

An Introduction

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How do you evolve from from a desire to provide medical oversight into a knowledgeable medical director?

An initial step is to learn about your own EMS system. How do your first responders or ambulance respond to a call? Are they stationed at a central location or do they respond from home? Do you have 911 or a dial up number to initiate a call for help? Who dispatches the ambulance? Are they like most rural areas where dispatch triple duties for law, fire and ambulance? Do the EMTs function at the basic or advanced level? Refer to the Joint Position Statement on Emergency Medical Services and Emergency Medical Services Systems for an outline of the components of an EMS system. Then sit down with your ambulance staff and LISTEN.

Check with your state EMS office, they may provide training for EMS medical directors. This may be presented as a distance learning program, as face-to-face instruction, or a combination. Contact information for all state EMS offices is available courtesy the National Association of State EMS Directors .

A valuable resource is the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP), an organization all EMS medical directors should join. This is a diverse group of physicians, EMTs, EMS educators, EMS administrators, and other professionals, all with one common interest: out-of-hospital medicine. The organization publishes the journal Prehospital Emergency Care which contains “peer-reviewed information relevant to the practice, educational advancement, and investigation of prehospital emergency care . . .”. Check their website for an overview of what the organization can offer you and for membership information. NAEMSP also offers a four day National EMS Medical Director Course and Practicum twice a year in conjunction with the semi-annual meeting of the NAEMSP. Information on the course is also available on the website.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) publishes the Annals of Emergency Medicine, which frequently contains an EMS section with useful articles. You can subscribe to the journal without being a member of ACEP. You may want to consider membership if you actively practice in an emergency environment.

Reviewing the EMT literature can provide the medical director with a perspective from the EMTs line of sight. Most journals will provide you with a courtesy subscription for a period of time. The Journal of Emergency Medial Services can be obtained from and EMS Magazine from Both web sites also provide online articles and information on upcoming EMS national events.

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