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Emergency Medical Services, commonly known as EMS, is the system that responds to emergencies requiring highly skilled prehospital clinicians. It might also be known as prehospital care or ambulance services.

They might also be known as emergency squads, ambulance squads, ambulance corps, and first aid squads. However, the latter might be outdated, given that EMS personnel are trained and equipped far beyond first aid today.

Although "EMS Service" might be grammatically incorrect. Given that the "S" in "EMS" stands for "Service," the phrase "EMS Service" would read "Emergency Medical Services Service." and that would be redundant. Nevertheless, "EMS Service" is a term that is commonly used in the profession.

In most jurisdictions, EMS can be summoned directly by members of the public, usually through an emergency number, such as 9-1-1. EMS personnel commonly respond in a vehicle known as an ambulance, although other vehicles may also be used. Patients are usually transported to a hospital in an ambulance, although helicopters, boats, and fixed-wing aircraft may also be used.

When dispatched, EMS will respond to the scene of the emergency, usually arriving in an ambulance. Upon arrival, they will begin providing medical care, which may differ according to the situation's requirements or the training level of the responding personnel. Suppose the patient needs to be transported to the hospital for further care. In that case, the patient will be moved into the ambulance, generally on a wheeled stretcher, sometimes called a gurney.

This is where the level of care will differ sharply according to jurisdictional requirements or the qualification levels of the responding ambulance service. Training and qualification levels for EMS personnel vary widely worldwide and even within the United States. In some jurisdictions, particularly in parts of the developing world, ambulance personnel are qualified only to drive ambulances and are provided with little or no medical training. This was once the case in parts of the United States, which is how EMS personnel became known as "ambulance drivers," now considered an insult by highly-trained prehospital personnel.

In contrast, most EMS systems now require, at the minimum, basic first aid training, such as CPR and first aid.

In the United States and many other countries, EMS personnel are required to be certified or licensed to provide specified levels of training. Various terms and requirements are applied to these levels.

In Texas, where I was employed in several facets of Emergency Medical Services for twenty years, ambulances were licensed to operate at one of three levels: Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Life Support (ALS), or Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU). BLS Units could operate with a minimum of two Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) certified at the EMT-Basic level, who were trained to handle most medical or traumatic emergencies but could not start IVs, intubate, or administer medications. ALS Units were required to have at least one team member certified as the EMT-Intermediate level, which was once known as EMT-Special Skills, although the other EMT could be an EMT-Basic. EMS personnel assigned to an ALS Unit can perform at the BLS level but are also equipped to establish IVs, intubate, and administer some essential medications. MICU Units were required to have at least one certified (or licensed) EMT-Paramedic, although the other crew member could be an EMT-B, an EMT-I, or another EMT-P. Personnel responding in a MICU-qualified ambulance can perform at the BLS and ALS levels and can also provide a much greater level of care, which will differ from company to company, according to protocols set up by the EMS company's physician medical director.

Other states have similar requirements, although some have only two levels, which would conform to the BLS and MICU levels used in Texas. However, they might use ALS to refer to the what is the MICU level in Texas.

Depending on the jurisdiction, ambulance company, and other specifications, physicians and nurses may also provide prehospital care. This model is popular in Europe. In the United States, ambulances may also be staffed by doctors and nurses, although they generally supplement traditional ambulance crews when available. When I was a paramedic, our medical director sometimes rode out with us, and registered nurses often accompanied us. Still, they weren't regularly scheduled crew members.

Emergency medical services may be provided by various types of organizations and may differ in the levels of care and expected scope of practice. Governments regulate the EMS industry at the federal, regional, or municipal levels in most countries

Topics related to emergency medical services are appropriate for this portion of our guide.



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