The phrase “first responder” may mean different things to different people. However, the term was created to describe EMS or emergency medical services. EMS workers in the field cope with high-stress situations that are often emotionally and physically demanding. They must have the appropriate communication skills to work with team members and the people they rescue. Their primary mission involves:

  • Stopping the progression of a health emergency
  • Transporting the patient to the nearest medical facility for treatment

They are either based in a specific location or listen to calls on an emergency band radio. Depending on the community in which EMS members work, they may arrive on the scene with or without an ambulance or another type of emergency health care vehicle. In this case, an emergency transport vehicle soon follows.

EMS workers are qualified to perform many different emergency procedures that include:

  • Providing CPR
  • Controlling bleeding or performing other basic first aid techniques
  • Administering epinephrine or other medications
  • Applying positive pressure ventilation

Basic first aid can be performed by firemen, law enforcement officers, as most are at least CPR certified.

EMS Requirements

The programs needed to train someone to become an EMS spans six months to two years. Upon completing and passing the class, new EMS workers must earn state certification and perhaps register with the National Registry of Emergency Technicians. Some may go on to advance their skills and knowledge by becoming an administer, a paramedic, learning more advanced emergency skills or gain in-depth pharmacology knowledge.

When someone calls for emergency assistance using 911, fast response times are essential for the best patient outcome. The time in which it takes an EMS team to arrive on the scene depends on different variables that include the geographic location, dispatch protocol, and traffic.

Emergency Response Teams

Communities having basic life support, or BLS, have a team of emergency medical technicians who provide basic care. Advanced life support, or ALS, first responders are manned by teams that include paramedics. The level of the care supplied largely depends on the economic resources within the community.

More advanced services require the financial backing to have an ambulance or other rescue vehicle combined with highly skilled and certified first responders. Many prefer having paramedics on call as opposed to EMS workers for the level of care they are capable of providing.