Emergency Medical Services
The Department of Health (Department) is the lead agency for emergency medical services (EMS) in the commonwealth. The Department’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services is responsible for the statewide development and coordination of a comprehensive system to prevent and reduce premature death and disability.
The bureau licenses all EMS agencies and credentials all prehospital providers in the commonwealth. The commonwealth's EMS system is made up of approximately 55,000 certified EMS personnel and more than 1,000 licensed ground and air agencies that respond to over 1 million requests for service each year.
Personnel are certified as emergency medical responders (EMR), emergency medical technicians (EMT), advanced emergency medical technicians (AEMT), paramedics, prehospital registered nurses (PHRN), prehospital physician extenders (PHPE) and prehospital physicians (PHP).
The medical command facility directors and medical command physicians are recognized by the Regional EMS Councils and credentialed by the bureau. Trauma care is provided by facilities accredited by the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation (PTSF).
EMS EDUCATION - Accredited education institutes and accredited continuing education sponsors deliver programs across the commonwealth. Accredited education institutes provide educational programs leading to certification.
EMS AGENCIES – Pennsylvania EMS agencies operate as quick response service (QRS), basic life support (BLS), intermediate advanced life support (IALS), advanced life support (ALS), critical care transport (CCT), and air ambulance levels. EMS agencies licenses are issued for a three (3) year period.
FACILITIES - Hospitals must be recognized as medical command facilities (MCF)by the Bureau of EMS to provide on-line medical command to prehospital personnel. Approximately 150 hospitals are recognized.
COMMUNICATIONS - The Bureau of EMS works with many partners to assure that a communications network exists that links patients, 9-1-1 centers or public safety answering points (PSAPs), providers, and receiving facilities.
The bureau approves the emergency medical dispatch (EMD) protocol training programs used for dispatcher training across the commonwealth.
PUBLIC INFORMATION, EDUCATION AND PREVENTION – The Bureau of EMS actively promotes Public Information, Education & Prevention activities. Examples are Trauma and Injury Prevention Seminar (TIPS) for EMS practitioners; Dare to Care Training (bystander care), a collaborative program with Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation, EMSC Child Care Consultant/Trainer Course to train prehospital personnel to work with day care centers in prevention; EMS Week activities every year the third week in May; collaboration with PA’s Poison Control Centers and the Save A Life Foundation.
SUMMARY – The bureau develops policy, assesses program operations and provides quality assurance oversight of the EMS system. It establishes statewide priorities for funding and distributes EMS funds to regional councils for system operations and funding of regional priorities to better serve the EMS system.
The bureau promotes system improvements through special projects and research with academic partners; and partnerships with the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Systems Council, the Pennsylvania Trauma Foundation and the two poison control centers.