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Emergency / Ambulance Service

Ambulance services, also referred to as emergency medical services (EMS), provide immediate treatment at the scene of an injury or accident and during transportation to a hospital emergency room.

Types of ambulance services

There are several kinds of ambulance service providers. Many emergency services are operated by the fire or police department within a city, which is often more cost-effective than funding a separate emergency services department.

Volunteer emergency services are often run by nonprofits or charity organizations and are comparable to volunteer fire departments. In some cases, volunteer fire departments and volunteer emergency services actually function as one entity. Volunteer emergency services may have a mix of volunteer and paid emergency workers.

Private ambulance service providers are for-profit commercial companies with paid employees. In some cases, local governments contract these private companies to provide emergency services. In other cases, private emergency service companies may work in competition with government-run services. An injured party will typically find private emergency services are more expensive than a government or volunteer EMS.

Many large hospitals also provide their own emergency services, which are also common in areas with unreliable emergency services. Hospital-based emergency services were one of the earliest forms of emergency services.

Many large companies that face the potential of employee injuries, such as chemical plants or oil refineries, have their own emergency services department so that transport injured workers to the hospital quickly.

Company-based emergency services and hospital emergency services do not respond to 911 phone calls. The type of service that responds to these calls depends primarily on the area, but it may be a volunteer service, a private service or a city service connected to the local police or fire station.

In most cases of an emergency, you don't have time to compare services. Usually, you'll dial 911, and the dispatcher will send an EMS to you. If you're prudent enough to prepare an emergency plan, take a moment to compare ambulance services on Angie's List, where you find the ones closest to you and read members' reviews about their experiences with those companies.

5 goals of ambulance services

Ambulance services set five basic goals when responding to an emergency call:

• detection. Emergency medical service workers quickly assess what's wrong with the patient. Then, they can begin emergency treatment and communicate with the hospital before they arrive with a new patient.

• early response. Once EMS providers identify the problem, they start treatment on the patient. This may include administering medicine, starting an IV, treating wounds or providing CPR.

• on-the-scene care. In some cases, EMS workers need to provide treatment before they can put a patient in the ambulance or transport him or her to the hospital. Providing on-the-scene care is far more challenging than providing care in a hospital setting, where the space is clean and equipment is readily available.

• care in transit. This goal involves continuing treatment on the way to the hospital while getting the patient safely there. 

• transferring the patient. Once the ambulance arrives, EMS workers move the patient from the stretcher to the hospital gurney, transfer charts and written information and provide doctors with a verbal explanation of the problem and the treatment provided to that point

Types of ambulance services workers

A variety of people work for ambulance services. As the name implies, the first responder is the first on the scene of an incident. Ambulance drivers and ambulance care assistants who drive the ambulance and help with getting the patient onto the stretcher and loading the stretcher into the ambulance.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are trained in emergency care and treatment, as they must provide on-site treatment and treatment in transit. In many cases, all the people on an emergency services squad are trained EMTs, so they can offer many kinds of help when needed.

Finally, the emergency medical dispatcher takes the emergency calls, stays on the phone with the caller and directs the ambulance to the correct location.