Emergency Medical Services

An Introduction

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EMS Tutorial: Overview

This tutorial covers two areas: a general introduction to EMS plus an overview of medical oversight.

Here's where we begin. A few definitions and concepts to jumpstart the tutorial.

The Joint Position Statement on Emergency Medical Services and Emergency Medical Services Systems developed by the National Association of State EMS Directors and the National Association of EMS Physicians provides us with the following definitions:

  • Medical Emergency: A sudden and/or unanticipated medical event which requires immediate assistance.
  • Emergency Medical Services: The provision of services to patients with medical emergencies (illness or injury).
  • Emergency Medical Services System: A comprehensive, coordinated arrangement of resources and functions which are organized to respond in a timely, staged manner to targeted medical emergencies, regardless of their cause or the patient's ability to pay, and to minimize their physical and emotional impact.

The EMS system can be divided into four general components: prehospital, facility (hospital or clinic), interfacility transport and post-facility care.

  • Prehospital: Medical care provided prior to the patient's arrival at a medical facility. Dial 911.
  • Facility: Patients with a medical emergency are transported or transport themselves to a health care facility. In urban environments this is generally a hospital. In rural environments it may be a small, isolated clinic.
  • Interfacility: Patients sometimes require transfer from one healthcare facility to another healthcare facility in order to obtain the most appropriate care. Interfacility transport can be accomplished via ground or air transport.
  • Post-facility care: Debilitating illness or injury may require ongoing rehabilitation or other types of support after a patient returns to the community.
  • Out-of-hospital: This term covers all emergency care provided outside the walls of a healthcare facility, namely prehospital care and interfacility transport. A more correct term might be out-of-facility health care.
  • Next a little time travel to look at a brief history of EMS.

EMS Tutorial Content



The EMS Response

The EMS Responder


EMS Summary

Medical Oversight Tutorial