Unitek EMT Looks at the History of Modern EMS

A Look at the History of Modern EMS

Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the most informative years in modern EMS! If you didn’t know, EMS stands for emergency medical services. EMS personnel perform a vital service for the public, and they alleviate the suffering of others. Without a doubt, they are the unsung heroes of the healthcare field.

For our look back at the modern history of EMS, we’re going to use information directly taken from an article by Dennis Edgerly in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS). Throughout this article, Dennis Edgerly delves into the birth of EMS and the history of the paramedic.

To start, let’s take a little trip back to the 1960s…

Unitek EMT Looks at the History of Modern EMS

The Birth of Modern EMS

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson received an influential report called Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society. According to Dennis Edgerly’s article, this report determined that accidental injuries were the leading cause of death in the first half of a person’s lifespan.

The report also identified some truly shocking statistics. In 1965 alone, it revealed that “vehicle accidents killed more Americans than were lost in the Korean War.” Additionally, when prehospital emergency care was evaluated, “the report identified that ‘if seriously wounded… chances of survival would be better in the zone of combat than on the average city street.’” Perhaps most importantly, the report also highlighted the lack of regulation for ambulance operations.

Dennis Edgerly had this to say about the ripple effects of the report:

“Commonly known as ‘the White Paper,’ this report made several recommendations for the prevention and management of accidental injuries, including the standardization of emergency training for ‘rescue squad personnel, policemen, firemen and ambulance attendants.’ This standardization led to the first nationally recognized curriculum for EMS—emergency medical technician–ambulance (EMT-A)—which was published in 1969. Many consider this document to be the birth of modern EMS.”

Dawn of the Paramedic

Some people thought that even more could be done for out-of-hospital care. A few critical areas/necessities included advanced airway management, vascular access, and medication administration. According to Dennis Edgerly, this need “led to the creation and implementation of the emergency medical technician–paramedic (EMT-P) curriculum in the early 1970s, with pioneering work by Walt Stoy, PhD, Nancy Caroline, MD, and others in Pittsburgh.” However, Edgerly notes that, prior to this achievement, various organizations had “already begun training personnel in advanced procedures and medication administration, creating the nation’s first paramedics.”

At the end of the article, Dennis Edgerly shared his views about the evolution of EMS: “Paramedic education has matured, as has the EMS profession. Paramedic programs today are well structured, supported within their local EMS community, and backed by or found within institutions of higher education. Quality paramedic programs are integral components within the foundation of EMS.”

About Unitek EMT

Unitek EMT strives to prepare the Emergency Medical Technicians of tomorrow by providing them with an accelerated EMT program. Seasoned professionals educate students through a combination of expert lectures, applied training, and workshop-style classes. Students will receive real-world experience through a clinical rotation or simulation.

Additionally, we offer a program with several variations to better accommodate our students. These include a 14-Day Boot Camp1 and an Expanded Online Hybrid at our Fremont Campus in Northern California. We also offer a modified version of the Boot Camp at our facility in Chandler, Arizona.

To speak with a school representative, please contact us toll free at 888-790-1458!




1 Our 14-Day EMT Program in AZ and the 14-Day on-ground portion of the EMT Program in CA are taught in an intensive “boot camp” style, to simulate the fast pace of work expected on the job as an EMT. The California EMT Program also includes online instructional hours.