The Star of Life
Emergency medical services and its personnel is can be commonly identified with the star of life symbol. The star of life with its blue six pointed star that features at the center the Rod of Asclepius, the ancient symbol for medicine and healing, was originally designed by the NHTSA. Ambulances, equipments, crews, medical personnel, elevators, and medical merchandise use the symbol.
The star of life was designed by Leo Schwartz, the NHTSA EMS branch chief, when the Red Cross complained the use of Omaha orange cross which resembles their logo. The new symbol came from the Medical Identification Symbol of the American Medical Association and was registered in 1977 for the NHTSA and later given to NREMT to be used as the EMT logo.
Meaning Behind the Star of Life
The six bars on the star of life represents the EMS function which include detection, reporting, response, on scene care, care in transit, and transfer to definitive care. Detection means the first on the scene which are usually civilians and other involved. Reporting calls for help and emergency medical dispatch. Response provides first aid and immediate care by rescuers. EMS personnel provides on scene care after the arrive on the scene. The EMS personnel provide care in transit as they transfer the patient to definitive care to a hospital.
Asclepius and the Symbol of Medicine
The snake on staff at the center represents Asclepius, son of Apollo in Greek mythology, who learned the art of healing from the centaur Cheron. Zues, king of the gods, became worried that the humans will become immortal and sent a thunderbolt to put an end to him. Later, people worshipped Asclepius as a god and eventually Zues brought him back to life making him a god. The staff that Asclepius hold with a snake coiled around it became the symbol of medicine.
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Emergency medical services or EMS provide out of the hospital medical care either while transporting the patient or at the scene of the emergency. Locally, they can also be know as the emergency squad, rescue squad, ambulance services, and many other names. EMS provides treatment and/or provide transport to an emergency center at a hospital.
In most cases emergency medical service is called by the public when there’s an emergency through a special emergency number. Some other cases involves physicians or nurses requiring the transport of patients to a more suitable medical facility. Other situations requires them to be in rescue operations like search and rescue, extrication, and water rescue.
Members of EMS needs specialized emergency medical technician training in first aid and life support depending on their roles. Sometimes ambulance drivers needs only basic first aid skill and no medical training. Some providers of basic life support include first responders, ambulance driver, emergency medical technicians, and dispatch personnel. Paramedics and emergency practitioners usually provides advanced life support. Some instances and in some parts of the world EMS includes registered nurses and physicians.
Early ambulances were used in battles of Napoleon designed by his physician to carry wounded soldiers from the battlefield in the late 18th century. Then civilian ambulances in London, followed by hospital ambulances. Motorized ambulances came in the late 19th century. More advances in providing medical care followed during WWI and WWII shifting some responsibility to police and fire department due to lack of personnel. The 1960s brought in new developments in CPR and defibrillation, more studies, The White Paper, standard ambulance construction, and the equipments the ambulance carry.
Emergency medical services can be provided by the government, fire and police, volunteers, privates providers, hospitals, and large companies. These providers exists to give first aid and prevent further injury using basic life support and advance life support.
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