Emergency Care System
The average Montana resident will need ambulance service at least twice in his or her lifetime and for some of these patients, delays in receiving emergency care may contribute to death or permanent injury. Montanans who live in rural areas face special problems in receiving emergency care. It is difficult to deliver emergency medical services (EMS) to widely dispersed populations quickly and in many small rural communities, there may be less than one emergency call a day. This relatively low volume of calls may mean that a rural ambulance service cannot support itself financially and that rural EMS providers have difficulty maintaining their specialized skills.
Emergency Care System
More commonly known as EMS, most people equate an EMS system with the ambulance they see responding to incidents in their community. However, EMS is much more than emergency medical response and transport and is better characterized as an emergency care system which includes the continuum of patient care from the occurrence of an illness or injury to the return the of patient back home.
EMS is part of an intricate emergency care system which includes:
- programs to prevent and mitigate injury and illness
- 9-1-1 dispatch centers;
- emergency response agencies and organizations – community, hospital and fire based as well as private;
- communications and transportation networks – for field response as well as interfacility care;
- clinics, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities;
It is manned by highly trained professionals, including:
- an informed public that knows what to do in a medical emergency;
- dispatchers trained in emergency medical dispatch;
- volunteer and career prehospital personnel;
- physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and many other professionals;
- administrative and government officials.
Each player in this emergency care system has an essential role to perform as part of a coordinated system of care.
EMS represents the intersection of public safety, public health, and health care systems
The public safety response of EMS services to 9-1-1 emergency patients represents a major part of the safety net for the healthcare system. EMS providers may be the provider of last resort for Montana citizens and visitors. However, EMS services are also an integral part of the public health system and they work closely with medical and public health experts to help alleviate unnecessary burdens on already overburdened hospital, medical and public health systems.