Emergency Medical Services
Emergency Medical Services (known by the acronym of "EMS") is a branch of medicine that is performed in the field, pre-hospital, (i.e., the streets, peoples' homes, etc.) by paramedics and Emergency Medical technicians. A Paramedic is a trained and licensed medical professional. Most commonly, Paramedics are those who respond to medical emergencies out in the field (pre-hospital) for the purpose of stabilizing the victim's condition so she/he can be transported to medical facilities. Emergency medical technician ('EMT') is an emergency responder trained to provide emergency medical services (EMS) to the critically ill and injured.
Once thought of as an "ambulance driver or attendant," the modern EMT and Paramedic performs many more duties than in the past, and responds to many types of emergency calls, including medical emergencies, hazardous materials exposure, childbirth, child abuse, fires, injuries, trauma and psychiatric crises. Although not commonly understood, EMS systems provide emergency care that is almost on par with that of an emergency room, equipment and procedures are obviously limited due to the nature of the environment that EMS personnel must work in.
EMS providers work under the license and indirect supervision of a medical director. A Medical Director is typically a board certified physician who is responsible for providing recommendations to EMS agencies. The Medical Director may also assist the agency in extending its Scope of practice and the policies and protocols of a particular EMS system or organization. EMS professionals are trained to follow a formal and carefully designed decision tree, which is a graph of decisions and their possible consequences, used to create a plan to reach a goal. Decision trees are constructed in order to help with making decisions, more commonly referred to as a protocol or standard of care, which has been created and approved by physicians. The emphasis in emergency services is on following correct procedure quickly and accurately rather than on making in-depth diagnosis which requires much professional experience. The use of a decision tree allows EMS workers to be trained in a much shorter time than physicians, with EMT-Basic classes, for example, as short as one year.
National EMS standards for the US are drawn up by the U.S. Department of Transportation and modified from state to state by the state's Department of EMS, and further altered by Regional Medical Advisory Committees (usually in rural areas) or by other committees or even individual EMS providers. In addition, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, an independent body, was created in 1970 at the recommendation of President Lyndon Baines Johnson in an effort to provide a nationwide consensus on protocols and a nationally accepted certification. National Registry certification is widely accepted in some parts of the U.S., while other areas still maintain their own, separate protocols and training.
Houston Healthcare Emergency Medical Services staff are continually training and reviewing protocols and advance skills every month to be able to provide the most advanced pre-hospital care to the community we serve. In addition to its continuing education, members of the EMS staff travel throughout Georgia to learn new updates in medicine, treatment and skills.