American dinner tables often yield many interesting discussions ranging from hysterically funny jokes to heated conversations and arguments on an array of topics affecting daily life. But it may be safe to assume, unless you are part of the profession or a breaking story popped up on the evening news during the commute home, the topic of emergency medical services will most likely never make the top ten list of subjects one cannot wait to chat about.
The staff at Regional EMS and Critical Care has a passion for what we do, and we decided to throw in a quick blog post to show there is definitely a unique and interesting side to the EMS profession with regard to its history, stats, and unique facts.
While the performance of medical “services” have been informally and unknowingly provided throughout the centuries, official professional records about the practice have only been around for approximately 70 years or so. Formal development of the EMS system has been based on tradition and, to some extent, on scientific knowledge.
But the EMS idea has its roots deep in history. For example, the biblical story of the Good Samaritan has the subject bind the injured traveler’s wounds with oil and wine at the side of the road, informally showing evidence that medical treatment protocols existed. And Western Civilization history books explain that, although the early centuries show the Romans and Greeks used chariots to remove injured soldiers from the battlefield, many more modern texts credit Baron Dominique-Jean Larrey, chief physician in Napoleon’s army, with institution of the first prehospital system designed to triage and transport the injured from the field to aid stations.
Did you know, prior to 1966 and the emergence of the Emergency Medical Service, it would be normal for people to be transported to the hospital, from an accident, in mortuary vehicles used by funeral homes?
Because of the lack of professional services of the current formal EMS system at that time, Congress passed legislation enabling the creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which now resides as the head of national EMS departments.
Now here are a few bullet point statistics the REMSCC staff found interesting. This data, collected from 2004 – 2008 was taken from the LEADS (Longitudinal Emergency Medical Technician Attributes and Demographics Study) Core Survey questionnaire and the 2005 Interim Report. The results of this analysis consisted of EMT Basics and Paramedics, but not EMT Intermediates. This is what was found:
- The average paramedic salary at that time was $43,525 per year – $54,710 in 2013
- EMS treated approximately 25-30 million people each year
- The expenditures of such treatment cost about $6.75 billion at that time
- There were about 700,000 EMS personnel in the country. Last report by the CDC in 2011 estimated over 826,000.
- There are less employees currently than there was prior to Sept. 11, 2001
- About 50% of EMT-Basics are volunteers gaining their field internships
- About 5% of Paramedics are not paid for their work
- Around 40% of EMS personnel are employed with fire departments
- 70% of all EMS employees were male – 75% in 2011 according to the National Registry Of EMTs
This is all for now. Keep your eyes open for more interesting EMS history and facts in the near future!
Information on the progression of EMS was obtained from the following sources:
- Emergency Medical Services – 2nd Edition (1978) by James O. Page
- Making a Difference – The History of Modern EMS (1997) by James O. Page
- The Paramedics (1979) by James O. Page
- 15 Years of Paramedic Engines (1993) by Gary Morris
- Connecticut EMS Foundation 2014 EMS Conference Notes