The EMS System Chain of Survival
An emergency refers to any sudden situation that requires immediate action. A well-coordinated emergency medical services (EMS) system is essential in ensuring the best outcome and preventing severe complications and death.
The EMS is a chain composed of several links, with every link playing a crucial to its success. The success of each link depends on the other. If every link of the EMS system is properly achieved, the victim moves through the chain. The system starts with the initial response of a responsible citizen or a lay-responder and ends with the care performed in the attempt to restore the health of the victim.
Everyone is part of the EMS system. In fact, citizen responders play the first and crucial role in the EMS system. Ideally, everyone should complete basic first aid training in order to provide critical help in any emergency. The very first link in the chain is the activation the EMS system, by calling 911 or the local emergency number, or instructing a bystander to call for help. The sooner the EMS system is activated, the sooner more advanced emergency medical services will arrive. This increases the chances of recovery and survival.
The second link is the dispatcher who receives the call. Once a call is made, the dispatcher quickly determines the nature of the accident and help needed. Depending on the needs of the accident, the operator dispatches the appropriate professionals. Dispatchers are usually trained at how to give the caller instructions about what to do while waiting for the ambulance.
The third link is the first responder. First responders are usually the first people to arrive in the accident scene and are trained at providing higher level of emergency care. These are the people whom you turn to for help in case of emergency. They may be lifeguards, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and other people who are responsible for the well-being and safety of the community. These officers usually have the necessary equipment and supplies to provide first aid. First responders ensure a smooth transition from lay responder’s primary level of care to more advanced level of care by EMS professionals.
The fourth link is the emergency medical technician (EMT). EMTs are trained to provide more advanced emergency care and advanced life support techniques. Usually, they come with the ambulance. Depending on the certification, experience and skills of the EMT, they can usually administer emergency medications, initiate intravenous fluids, and provide other advanced life-saving techniques. They are also trained to handle a wide range of emergencies. EMT-paramedics are highly skilled professionals who can provide advanced, out-of-hospital care.
The fifth link is the healthcare providers who provide medical care as soon as the victim arrives at the emergency department of a medical facility. This link is comprised of a team of health care professionals, including doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, and other health care professionals.
The sixth and last link the EMS chain is rehabilitation. The ultimate goal is to restore the victim to optimum level of function. The rehabilitation starts as soon as the victim’s condition is stabilized and is moved out of the emergency department. Different health care professionals, such as medical specialists, family physicians, social workers, occupation therapists, and consulting specialists, work together to restore the victim to previous state of health.
All of these six parts of the EMS chain should connect well in order to ensure the best possible care and outcome for the victim.