Future of Emergency Care Series

IOM EMS Report Image

Emergency Medical Services: At the Crossroads

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is a critical component of our nation's emergency and trauma care system, providing response and medical transport to millions of sick and injured Americans each year. At its best, EMS is a crucial link to survival in the chain of care, but within the last several years, complex problems facing the emergency care system have emerged. Press coverage has highlighted instances of slow EMS response times, ambulance diversions, trauma center closures, and ground and air medical crashes. This heightened public awareness of problems that have been building over time has underscored the need for a review of the U.S. emergency care system. Emergency Medical Servicesprovides the first comprehensive study on this topic. This new book examines the operational structure of EMS by presenting an in-depth analysis of the current organization, delivery, and financing of these types of services and systems. By addressing its strengths, limitations, and future challenges this book draws upon a range of concerns:

  • The evolving role of EMS as an integral component of the overall health care system.
  • EMS system planning, preparedness, and coordination at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • EMS funding and infrastructure investments.
  • EMS workforce trends and professional education.
  • EMS research priorities and funding.

This book will be of particular interest to emergency care providers, professional organizations, and policy makers looking to address the deficiencies in emergency care systems.


NAM logo


The objectives of this study were to provide an overview of the emergency care system in the U.S., explore its strengths, limitations, and future challenges, describe a desired vision of the emergency care system, and recommend strategies needed to achieve that vision. In three consensus reports released in 2006, the Committee on the Future of Emergency Care in the United States Health System documented the state of affairs and discussed ways to improve the 9-1-1 and medical dispatch systems, prehospital emergency medical services (EMS), and hospital-based emergency and trauma care networks that serve adults and children.

Each volume in the series provides an in-depth analysis of emergency care and explores broad system-wide concerns. Recommendations for addressing pediatric and pre-hospital emergency medical services (EMS) matters, as well as hospital-based emergency department issues, are addressed in each respective volume. The Future of Emergency Care series focuses on three key areas in emergency care and offers recommendations on: � pre-hospital emergency care, hospital-based emergency care, pediatric emergency and trauma care. The IOM's Committee on the Future of Emergency Care in the United States Health System was tasked with examining the state of emergency care in the United States. Their findings and recommendations are found in this three-book series that offers a vision for the future of emergency and trauma care. The scope of the IOM study addresses the full range of emergency care services, including: 9-1-1 and medical dispatch, pre-hospital EMS including ground and air medical services, hospital-based emergency, and trauma care for both adults and children