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The emergency medical system 

The emergency medical system
The emergency medical system

Marc Sabbe

, K Bronselaer

, and O Hoogmartens


February 22, 2018: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.

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date: 11 July 2020

The mission of the emergency medical services is to promote and support a system that provides timely, professional, and state-of-the art emergency medical care, including ambulance services, to anyone who is victim of a sudden injury or illness, at any time or location and at any phase of the emergency incident. These phases include lay people’s prevention and preparedness, occurrence of the problem, its detection, alarming of trained responders, help provided by bystanders and trained pre-hospital providers, transport to the appropriate hospital, and, if necessary, admission or transfer to a more appropriate hospital. In order to meet the goal outlined, emergency medical services must work closely with local and state officials—fire and rescue departments, other ambulance providers, hospitals, and other agencies—to foster a smooth functioning network. The term emergency medical services evolved to reflect a change from a simple system of ambulances, providing only transportation, to a system in which actual medical care is given at the scene and during transport. Medical supervision and/or participation of emergency medicine physicians in the emergency medical services systems contribute to the quality of medical care. This emergency medical services network must be capable of responding instantly and reliably around the clock, with well-trained, well-equipped personnel linked, as needed, through a strong communication system. Research plays an important role in conserving resources and improving the delivery of health care. This chapter gives an overview of the different aspects of emergency medical services and calls for high-quality research in pre-hospital emergency care in a true partnership between cardiologists and emergency physicians.

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