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Emergency Medical Services and Staff Challenges


Emergency medical services include medical services offered to patients away from the hospitals as well as the transportation of patients to hospitals. Other names given to emergency medical services include life squad, ambulance services and first aid. Emergency medical services are entitled to patients requiring urgent medical attention; for instance, individuals injured severely in accidents or very sick patients. The term “emergency medical service” is used in place of the ambulance, which involved the transportation of the patient to the hospital. In addition to transportation, EMS involves treatment of the patient at the scene and during transportation. It also includes the transfer of patients from a health facility to another. The transfer may be to help the patient access special care or to relocate patients no longer in need of special care to local health facilities where they continue with the recovery process. Technical rescue operations are carried out by EMS in some countries. An example is offering aid in famine and flood-stricken areas (Evans 1997, p. 46).

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Different countries have different requirements for EMS employees. In some cases, members can only transport patients while in other regions, employees should have medical and driving skills. However, in most countries, employees are equipped with skills to offer first aid to patients like Basic Life Support (BSL). In other countries, EMS comprises employees trained in Advanced Life Support (ALS) such as physicians, nurses, and paramedics. I carried out this research to enable people to understand the role of EMS in society. I wanted community members to understand why services offered are important and how accessing these services at the right time may have positive impacts on life. The topic is interesting because it will equip my audience (community members) with important knowledge. My research targeted on EMS in the United States of America. Challenges faced by EMS personnel were addressed (Pitts, Niska, Xu & Burt 2008, p. 36).


The research design of this study used secondary sources and data. Salkind (2009, p. 45) argues that data collection is a concept used to exemplify a procedure of organizing and gathering information in research work, either as a fraction of a process development or comparable assignment. The main intention for data collection was to acquire information to keep on proof, to make choices concerning vital issues, and to provide information. The study used both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative designs deal with case studies where it carries out studies on different things within their framework and considers the objective meanings that the public bring to their situations. On the other hand, quantitative design deals with social investigations and trials that in most cases are assessed against the potency and limitation (Rubin & Babbie 2010, p. 79).

Information was collected from journals, periodicals, articles, and books. Information was also collected from Galileo search engines, Gale Cengage Learning, government websites, and EBSCOhost. Information gathered helped in the understanding of the meaning of EMS and the role it plays in the society. Also challenges faced by EMS personnel during execution of duties were addressed. Examples include Disease control priorities project: strengthening emergency medical services, a matter of life and death in low-income countries by World Health Organization and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2006 emergency department summary by Pitts Niska, Xu, and Burt.

Literature review

The care provided to patients immediately after the occurrence of severe medical condition like heart attack, injury, or complications during birth is referred to as emergency medical care. Emergency medical care varies from one patient to another depending on the type and severity of the condition. Although medical emergencies require immediate attention, it is not compulsory for patients to be moved for treatment in special hospitals. Only those patients with complicated issues should be taken to tertiary hospitals. Others can access treatment from local facilities if supplies, equipments, and technicians are available (World Health Organization 2008, p.1).

Causes of Emergency Medical Services

There are many causes of emergency medical causes such as obstetric complications, infections, ignorance of terminal diseases, chemical imbalances, and injuries. The role of EMS is to assess the condition of the patient, offer first aid and transport the patient to the nearest health facility. Timely attendance of the patient enhances survival through reduced mortality rate and prevents disability (Alagappan & Holliman 2005, p. 7).

Challenges faced by Emergency Medical Services

EMS faces many challenges not only in the United States of America, but also throughout the world. In the majority of countries, the resources allocated for this sector are not enough. Sometimes the number of people in need of emergency services is high for instance the September 11th terrorists attacks, which caused deaths and injuries of large numbers of Americans. In such cases, it is difficult for EMS professionals to work efficiently. The study showed that although most of the countries strive to improve the quality of emergency services offered to patients, there is little concern about increasing amount allocated to the sector. The study showed that limited resources make it impossible for hospitals to purchase enough equipment for the patients. For instance life supporting machines are very expensive. There are instances in which demand for life supporting machines increases beyond the number of available machines. In such cases, some patients end up dying (Alagappan & Holliman 2005, p. 8).

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According to Arnold (1999, p. 100), transport was another major challenge experienced by EMS personnel. Some of the areas in where emergency services are needed cannot be accessed easily because of poor or lack of transportation means like roads, especially remote areas. Climatic conditions like high rainfall may also hinder transportation. In such cases, EMS personnel may delay on the way and fail to offer the necessary assistance. In countries where EMS employees lack medical skills, patients who could have survived if attended at the scene may die on the way to the hospital. In addition, it is also difficulty for medical professionals to carry with them medical equipments because they may not know the condition of the patients (Rochefort 2008, p. 250).

Components of Emergency Medical Services

Emergency medical services comprise three major components, pre-hospital care, transportation, and hospital care. Care provided to patients at the scene of injury, or severe condition before the patient is taken to hospital is known as pre-hospital care. The process is cheap because simple equipments are used. Time taken for transportation to health facility depends on various factors such as transportation mode, time taken by ambulance services to respond, and time spent at the scene. Poor means of transport and communication may cause delays. Elements of emergency care vary from one country to another. The future of patients depends of the quality of services offered at the hospital (Bodiwala 2007, p. 288).

Data Commentary

A study conducted by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2001 show that emergency cases are causing deaths of large numbers of people in developing countries. For instance, many expectant mothers suffer from excess bleeding after delivery. Inability to access medical services immediately and lack of enough resources cause deaths of the many women after birth. The study showed that 20% of worldwide deaths occur due to injuries. Heart attacks, stroke, cerebral malaria, and dehydration are other condition that requires immediate medical attention. The table below represents 45% deaths and disability resulting from emergency medical condition in developing countries and 36% of the common diseases (World Health Organization 2008, p. 1).

The table below shows some of the diseases that Emergency Medical Services address. This data was collected by World Health Organization in 2001 in developing countries. The data was collected from all age groups.

DISEASES DEATHS (millions) DALYS Lost (Millions)
Communicable diseases. These arise due to complications during the development of the child. Malaria, meningitis, and maternal complications. 5. 0 173.6
Non-communicable diseases. Examples include hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. 12.0 171.8
Injuries. This includes intentional injuries for instance those attained from violence. 4.7 155.8
Total Emergency Related 27.7 501.2

The results shown in the table above show that severe medical conditions that require immediate medical attentions cause deaths of large numbers of people in developing countries. This calls for intervention measures to improve the quality of emercgency services offered in developing countries. Apart from deaths, most people retain permanent disabilities because of delayed of lack of emergency social services. The role played by emergency medical services cannot be overlooked.To reduce deaths and disabilities resulting series injuries and illnesses, developing countries should look for ways of improving the quality of health care services through funding (World Health Organization 2008, p. 3).


Emergency medical services forms a major part of the trauma and emergency care system in every country. More 16 million patients are transported annually by EMS employees. The severity of the condition of patients range from mild fever to shock. The nature of EMS personnel work is dangerous, stressgul, challenging, but it is sometimes rewarding. This body plays a major role in maintaing health of human beings (Weisz 2005, p. 96).

List of References

Alagappan, K & Holliman, C 2005, History of the development of international emergency medicine, Emerg Med Clin North Am, vol. 23, pp. 1-10.

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Arnold, J 1999, International emergency medicine and the recent development of emergency medicine worldwide, Ann Emerg Med, vol. 33, pp. 97-103.

Bodiwala, G 2007, Emergency medicine: a global specialty, Emerg Med Australasia, vol. 19, pp. 287-288.

Evans, R 1997, Health care reform: who’s selling the market, and why? Journal of Public Health Medicine, vol. 19, pp. 45-49.

Pitts, S, Niska, R, Xu, J & Burt, C 2008, National hospital ambulatory medical care survey: 2006 emergency department summary, Natl Health Stat Report, vol. 7, pp. 1-38.

Rochefort, M 2008, Comparative medical systems, Annu Rev Sociol, vol. 22, pp. 239-270.

Rubin, A & Babbie, E 2010, Research methods for social work, Cengage Learning, New York.

Salkind, N 2009, Exploring research, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.

Weisz, G 2005, Divide and conquer: a comparative history of medical specialization, Oxford University Press, New York.

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World Health Organization 2008, Disease control priorities project: strengthening emergency medical services, a matter of life and death in low-income countries. Web.

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