The History, Function and Skills of the Emergency Medical Service

Emergency medical services are often the first responders when accidents or emergencies occur. Though there are no standard EMS courses, the training usually lasts between 100 and 130 hours. During training, the potential emergency medical technician, or EMT learns the procedures most likely set by their community’s Department of Transportation. The EMT is kept up-to-date of procedures and equipment as knowledge and technology advance.

Not surprisingly, EMS care was begun and perfected during wartime. The first recorded instance of emergency care happened during Napoleon’s war in Prussia in 1795. Back then it was known as the flying ambulance and was made up of horse-drawn carriages staffed with trained medics. This concept was reactivated during the Civil War, but it took both World Wars for EMS to come into its own.

An EMS unit is a group of EMTs and is part of a system that goes into action when an emergency is called into the local 911 dispatcher. The skill level of an EMT ranges from the ability to perform basic life support to the skills of a trained paramedic. All EMTs are trained to deal with both injury and illness and the emotional upsets that result from them.

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The conditions that an EMT needs to deal with over the course of their career almost defy listing. They will confront patients who are in cardiac arrest and who are in shock and patients suffering from cuts, bruises, burns, fractures and internal injuries. Other patients will suffer seizures, respiratory illnesses, diabetic comas, insulin shock or will have overdosed on drugs. EMTs care for patients who are suffering from excessive cold or heat and women who are giving birth. Psychiatric emergencies are also problems an EMT must deal with.

Safety is the primary concern of the EMT when they arrive at a scene. The patient needs to be kept safe but so must the EMT if they are to do their job correctly. Some situations are too hazardous for the EMT to enter, no matter how much they wish to help the patient. They include the patient being trapped in a building that has been damaged or is on fire and is very likely to collapse.

But if the EMT is free to safely get to the patient they need to determine what’s wrong and provide the appropriate emergency care. They should be able to free, lift and move the patient without injuring themselves or injuring the patient further, then prepare the patient to be transferred to the ambulance. When the patient is in the ambulance, they should be transported safely to the medical facility. On the way, the EMT should provide the necessary care while communicating with the medical facility. In this way, the medical facility can prepare to receive and treat the patient.

After the patient has been delivered to the hospital, the EMT should return from the run, fill out whatever paperwork needs be taken care of and prepare the equipment, supplies and the ambulance itself for the next run.