The demand for prehospital emergency services in an aging society

Charles E. McConnel, Rosemary W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


This research examines the implications of an aging society on the demand for prehospital emergency medical services (EMS). Using a large comprehensive set of population-based EMS utilization data (N = 73,874) and population data from the 1990 Census for the City of Dallas, Texas, rates of utilization for eight age groups were computed for total EMS incidents, incidents requiring transport services, and a sub-category of transport services for individuals requiring services for life-threatening conditions. The pattern of utilization associated with age was found to be tri-modal with rates rising geometrically with age for individuals aged 65 and over. Compared to the age group 45 to 64 years of age, rates of utilization for those aged 85 years and older were 3.4 times higher (P < 0.001) for total EMS incidents, 4.5 times higher (P < 0.001) for emergency transports and 5.2 times higher (P < 0.001) for incidents of a life-threatening nature. A broad categorization of all EMS incidents by reason for requiring services indicates that the observed age-associated increase in utilization is due primarily to medical conditions rather than incidents arising from trauma. Finally, gender and racial/ethnic differences in utilization are briefly considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1031
Number of pages5
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 1998


  • Aging
  • Emergency services
  • Health service planning
  • Health services
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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