Emergency medical services (EMS) save thousands of lives every year by providing fast, targeted care for acute medical conditions before the injured or ill person can be treated in a hospital. As expressed in Maxim Gorin’s profile, it is important to consider all the aspects of EMS including vehicle financing, national and state agency licensing and the latest technology implementations for record keeping and billing.
The federal government sets the minimum standards for all EMS providers in the country. There are also state regulations that may be even higher than federal standards because of the differences in population density, topography and other conditions. These differences may call for different types of EMS.
The Skills Required to Be an EMS Provider
In the past, only physicians performed certain procedures, but today many of these are performed by a Paramedic or a trained Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). The level of medical care provided may vary by state and, in some cases, in counties within states. In some states, technicians learn to provide IV therapy and defibrillation after taking special courses to learn these skills. It is more common for EMT practitioners to have these add-on skills in rural areas where it may be a long drive to the nearest hospital.
The Basic Qualifications
There are different levels of training required for the different qualification levels.
The first level is emergency medical responders (EMR). They are often volunteers and immediately provide basic care including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), bleeding control, using an automated external defibrillator (AED) and emergency childbirth. The attending EMR and EMT provide this care while the patient is being transported to a hospital.
An EMT has all the EMR skills as well as advanced oxygen and ventilation skills, noninvasive blood procedure monitoring, pulse oximetry and the administration of certain medications.
An Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) has all the previous skills as well as advanced airway devices, intraosseous and intravenous access, blood glucose monitoring and the administration of additional medication.
There are two types of paramedics. The both include all of the above skills. A Critical Care Paramedic specializes in the management of critical trauma including aortic balloon pump monitoring, specialized hemodynamic monitoring and much more. A Flight Paramedic has flight-specific knowledge for an air ambulance.
Some states and in some counties, registered nurses are used for pre-hospital services. They are most often used in air ambulances or critical transport and require specialized training as well as experience in pre-hospital care.
Response Times Vary
The response time is the time it takes the EMS to reach the patient. There is no standard for response times. They will depend on the standards in the local community. The ideal response time is eight minutes, but many cities have a 10 to 15 minute response time. Most EMS providers try to give the quickest response time they can, but sometimes conditions make it difficult depending on the number of calls they receive and the number of vehicles they have.
The goal of most EMS throughout the world is to provide treatment for urgent medical conditions so that the patient can receive treatment quicker than the time it usually takes to get to a hospital. EMS is no longer a system of ambulances that provide transportation, but contain medical equipment and the technicians trained to use it.