What are Emergency Medical Services?
Much of the language within the healthcare profession is delivered in acronyms—because to be honest, it’s much easier to say “EKG” than it is to let “electrocardiogram” roll off the tongue.
EMS, or Emergency Medical Services, is a faction of the health careers industry that most people know about, but actually know little about.
Emergency medical services may also be referred to as ambulance services or corps, or “the paramedics” as a unit. EMS are performed by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics, sometimes referred to as EMT-Ps.
The purpose of modern EMS is to provide urgent and emergency medical care to patients in a non-medical environment, such as a home or public location where a medical situation presents, or during transit of the patient to the hospital. This medical care is often critical and in response to incidents that occur without warning, such as heart attacks or strokes.
EMS also respond to scenes of accidents, including motor vehicle, fire, natural disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes, and crime scenes. EMS professionals are trained and experienced in responding quickly to medical emergencies and rapidly delivering life-saving intervening care, while assessing the patients’ need for transport to a hospital.
The types of calls EMS respond to vary day to day, though some regions might identify certain trends based on the populous, climate, and geography. On some calls, EMTs or paramedics might be able to complete treatment on the scene; others may need to indicate for additional support such as airlifts to hospitals or specialty care centers. EMS teams may be involved in rescue missions including search and rescue or extrication. Because paramedics and EMTs can never predict the type of work that will be required on any given day, they are trained in many techniques and training includes critical thinking and quick, sound decision-making practice.
Where Do EMS Work?
EMS operate out of different places and on different scenes. In some cities or states, EMS is a branch of the city’s fire department. In others, the EMS or ambulatory center is its own entity and housed in a separate building within the jurisdiction. Some hospitals utilize their own ambulance corps. EMTs and paramedics may work solely out of the ambulance center and respond to calls, or they may work on-scene at schools, large community events, or other places where people may gather.