When you think of emergency medical transport, an ambulance is the first thing that comes to mind. The first ambulances were horse drawn litters and were later replaced by larger wagons. Once the automobile was in use, ambulances as we know them today began to be used.
Ambulance services may be privately owned, hospital based, or in conjunction with a fire or police department. In some rural areas it is not practical or cost effective to maintain separate ambulance and fire departments, so they are often combined.
Communities may contract with a private ambulance company to provide emergency medical transport for their area. Some charities or non-profit companies also operate emergency vehicles providing service to a community or for private events such as sporting events or concerts. The Red Cross provides this service here in the U.S. and around the world and often offers back up for existing ambulance companies during emergencies or to help cover busy periods.
Emergency Medical Transport In Difficult Conditions
Helicopters were first used by the military, but now they are a valuable part of emergency medical transport. They are especially important to help transport victims from areas that are difficult to access by traditional vehicles. Helicopters may also be used to transport critical patients from one facility to another and to transport organs for transplant.
There are also fixed wing hospital planes, but they are most often used by the military as are hospital ships. Most hospitals in urban areas today have a helicopter pad on the roof. They are life saving when multiple victims need to be transported from the scene of an accident to a hospital.
The “scoop and run” method of this type of emergency medical transport means that minimal pre-hospital treatment is done and the patient is en route within ten minutes. This is most often used to deal with trauma situations rather than strictly medical issues like respiratory failure or heart attacks, but research suggests that this could change and thus improve the survival rate of cardiac patients.
Emergency Medical Transport In Other Countries
In France and Germany, doctors usually respond to emergencies requiring more than simple first aid and in North America, ambulance crews are typically staffed by emergency medical technicians or paramedics. Treatment is administered depending on the training of the ambulance crew and they are often in contact with an emergency room physician while en route. Most communities have some sort of emergency medical transport and it is often covered by health insurance.