Role of emergency medical services

James M Atkins, M. P. Wainscott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


For thrombolytic therapy to be effective in the treatment of acute myocardial infarction, the patient must enter the health care delivery system in an efficient manner. Some entry delays are due to patient decisions and interactions with others. In the United States, prehospital care is delivered by a variety of different systems, varying from public service types such as fire-department based to private types of service. These personnel vary in level of training from paramedics with a high level of training to Emergency Medical Technicians-Ambulance with basic training (first aid), even less in some areas. The training should be upgraded so that training as an emergency medical technician with the ability to defibrillate would be the minimum level for emergency ambulance personnel; wherever economically and logistically feasible, ambulance personnel should be paramedics. Although the 911 emergency telephone system exists in some areas, there is no centralized, universal system for access, causing confusion and delays in obtaining care in critical situations such as cardiac arrest. There is a need for a national emergency number - 911 - with the ability to identify the calling number and address. Since dispatchers have little medical dispatch training, needed instructions are not given to the caller, which can reduce the patient's chance of survival. Trained dispatchers are needed to dispatch resources efficiently and to offer assistance until trained rescuers arrive. Ambulances are inefficiently located in some areas of the United States, slowing response to the patient. There must be sufficient numbers of vehicles and personnel, with an appropriate distribution to provide efficient care. Regional planning and categorization of hospitals is required for effective triage of cardiac patients. Methods of reimbursement should be defined if thrombolytic therapy is to be given before arrival at the hospital. Only with an integrated system will patients be transported rapidly to an appropriate facility, maximizing the effectiveness of thrombolytic therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-581
Number of pages6
JournalHeart and Lung: Journal of Critical Care
Issue number5 II
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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