EMS as an Essential Public Safety Service

Revised June 2017 and September 2010

Originally approved September 2003  

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) believes that Emergency Medical Service (EMS) is an essential public safety service. EMS holds a special position at the intersection of public health, health care, and public safety. EMS plays an indispensable role in every community’s emergency response system and forms a critical component of the nation’s disaster response infrastructure. All EMS systems must be capable of addressing the daily needs for effective out-of-hospital emergency medical response. An effective EMS system is also essential in any plan to mitigate and respond to the medical consequences of a disaster and other public health events, whether natural or man-made. EMS joins with fire, police, and the local health care system to maintain healthy, safe, and secure communities. EMS, fire, and police together form a triad of critical services requiring national and community support and funding.

Public health systems protect the community through disease prevention, surveillance, and response. Cooperation and integration of EMS and public health not only provides an essential infrastructure for daily response, but also can improve a community's preparedness and response to acts of terrorism as well as other identified public health needs. EMS systems continue to evolve to include non-traditional programs such as Community Paramedicine (CP) and Mobile Integrated Healthcare (MIH).

Strong leadership and appropriate and consistent funding is essential to ensure the viability, effectiveness and sustainability of public safety and public health systems. In particular, funding for EMS must address the multiple roles that EMS plays in the community and be sufficient to ensure an effective response not only in daily operations, but also in disasters, and other public health crises. ACEP calls on the key stakeholders (local, state, and federal governments and private organizations) to support a unified effort to improve EMS funding and further calls for unified oversight of all aspects of EMS at the federal level.
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