Top 5 types of emergency medical services

Before we proceed with the 5 types of emergency medical services, it would be of great importance we consider what emergency medical services are.

From the name, one can deduct the meaning and functions of these services but it would interest to know that it goes beyond what you may know.

It is a system of coordinated response and emergency medical care, involving multiple people and agencies. A comprehensive EMS system is ready every day for every kind of emergency.

The term “emergency medical service” was popularized when these services began to emphasize diagnosis and treatment at the scene.

In some countries, a substantial portion of EMS calls does not result in a patient being taken to a hospital.

What are emergency medical services?

Emergency medical services (EMS) are those services provided in urgent pre-hospital treatment and stabilization for serious illness and injuries and transport to definitive care.

Ems team can be called first aid squad, Fast squad, ambulance squad, ambulance corps, and other names depending on preference.

Related: Free emergency medical insurance

In most places, the EMS can be summoned by members of the public via an emergency telephone number which puts them in contact with a control facility, which will then dispatch a suitable resource for the situation.

5 types of emergency medical services

There are different routes and means of delivering emergency medical services ranging from Ambulances, cars, motorcycles, aircraft, and boats. EMS agencies may also operate a non-emergency patient transport service, and some have rescue squads to provide technical rescue services.

As a first resort, the EMS provides treatment on the scene to those in need of urgent medical care. If it is deemed necessary, they are tasked with transferring the patient to the next point of care. This is most likely an emergency department of a hospital.

The qualifications of the EMS team vary depending on different factors and like positions, certification and training, and skills.

Components of effective emergency medical services

The components of EMS include but are not limited to;

  • Communications and transportation networks
  • Trauma systems, hospitals, trauma centers, and specialty care centers
  • Volunteers
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Trained professionals and personnel
  • Physicians, nurses, and therapists
  • Machine operators and transporters
  • Administrators and government officials

5 types of emergency medical services

There are different types of emergency medical services that we will be looking at; the focus is to save lives, protect property and the environment, assist communities impacted by disasters, and aid recovery during emergencies.

  • Hospital-Based Service
  • Government EMS
  • Voluntary EMS
  • Private Ambulance Service
  • Combined Emergency Service

Hospital-Based EMS

Some hospitals may provide their own emergency medical services to the community, or where ambulance care is unreliable or chargeable.

Government EMS

This is among the 5 types of emergency medical services operating separately from the fire and police service of that particular area; these ambulances are funded by the local or national government.

In some countries, these tend to be found only in big cities, whereas in countries such as the United Kingdom, almost all emergency ambulances are part of the National Health Service

Fire or Police Linked EMS

Here firefighters and police are usually the first lines of response to emergency medical cases. For instance, when there is a sudden onset of an illness or injuries the firefighters are the first responders to calls for emergency medical aid, with separate ambulance services providing transportation to hospitals when necessary.

In many countries of the world, many ambulances are operated by the local fire or police service. This is particularly common in rural areas, where maintaining a separate service is not necessarily cost-effective.

Voluntary EMS

From the name would easily deduct this type of EMS. Some charities or non-profit companies operate ambulances, which provide emergency and patient transport functions.

5 types of emergency medical services

This may be along similar lines to volunteer Fire companies and may be either community or privately owned. They may be linked to voluntary fire service, with volunteers providing both services. There are also charities that focus on providing ambulances for the communities.

The Red Cross provides this service in many countries across the world on a volunteer basis, as do some other smaller organizations such as St John Ambulance.

Private Ambulance Services

These are normal commercial companies with paid employees, but often on contract to the local or national government. Many private companies provide only the patient transport element of ambulance care.

However, in some places, they are also contracted to provide emergency care or to form a ‘second tier’ response, where they only respond to emergencies when the full-time emergency ambulance crews are busy or they respond to non-emergency home calls, such as “pick up and put back” calls.

Combined EMS

These are full-service emergency service agencies, which may be found in places such as airports or large colleges and universities.

Their key feature is that all personnel are trained not only in ambulance (EMT) care but as firefighter and peace officers (police function).

They may also be found in some smaller towns and cities which do not have the resources or requirements for separate services.

This multi-functionality allows the community to make the most of limited resources or budget by having a single team respond to any emergency.

Conclusion on the 5 types of emergency medical services

There are different EMS groups however, the 5 types of emergency medical services in our list are the major EMS from which other bodies and other organizations that provide emergency services may arise.

It is also important to note that emergency medical services (EMS) are a sub-category of the emergency service sectors (ESS).

The ESS includes geographically distributed facilities and equipment in both paid and volunteer capacities organized primarily at the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels of government.


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