Emergency Medical Services

Emergency Medical Services, more commonly known as EMS, is a system that provides emergency medical care. Once it is activated by an incident that causes serious illness or injury, the focus of EMS is emergency medical care of the patient(s). EMS is most easily recognized when emergency vehicles or helicopters are seen responding to emergency incidents. But EMS is much more than a ride to the hospital. 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.


In most areas, the EMT is considered the minimum level of certification for ambulance personnel. Certification as an EMT requires successful competition of the U.S. DOT”s EMT National Standard Training Program along with National Registry written and practical exams. The curriculum for the EMT deals with the assessment and care of the ill or injured patient. EMT-Basics in Wisconsin are trained with additional advanced skills and interventions. Initial training for EMT is 192 hours. Just a few years ago, most ambulance service providers were EMT. Wisconsin then added an additional level of service and now most Waukesha County services are providing care at the Advanced EMT Level or higher.

Advanced EMT

The Advanced EMT or AEMT is the new mid-level EMS provider that has been introduced at the national level according to the new national EMS scope of practice model. The AEMT will replace the EMT-I/85 and EMT-I/99. The EMT-I/99 will have a total of three re-certification cycles to meet the requirements to transition to the Paramedic level, while the EMT-I/85 will have two re-certification cycles to transition to the AEMT.

How has the role of EMS changed in the past 40 years?

Since its inception, the purpose of EMS has been to render emergency medical care to sick or injured people in emergency situations. But during the past 40 years, its role has continuously evolved. Modern EMS developed out of simultaneous advances in the science of cardiac resuscitation as well as the recognition of accidental death and disability as a neglected epidemic. It was created to meet the immediate needs of the acutely ill and injured; to provide emergency care and transportation.

Over the past four decades, EMS has expanded to provide emergency medical care for all types of emergencies. And it includes the care of medical emergencies as well as all types of injuries, accidental and intentional. In many areas of the country, it functions as a heath care “safety net”, especially for the un- or under-insured. Public health authorities have also turned to EMS to assist in prevention activities, to promote health and wellness programs, and to assist in the identification of new or significant outbreaks of illness or injury.

The natural and man-made disasters of recent years have further changed the role of EMS and the need to respond to a growing list of hazards as well as the capability to care for large numbers of patients. Advances in medicine and technology continue to generate changes in operations and the protocols for emergency care provided by EMS. In today’s world, a comprehensive EMS system is one that is ready for every emergency every day. But first and foremost, caring for the patient(s) remains the priority for EMS.