The Mission-Critical Resource Center

What’s Wrong With Emergency Medical Services Today—and How To Fix It

In Summary

  • Emergency medical service has come a long way since their inception, but numerous significant challenges still exist for the agencies that provide such services and their personnel. This whitepaper explores those challenges and presents solutions for mitigating them.
  • Challenges consist of staffing, funding and billing, response and patient care
  • The solutions: apply for grants, implement non-traditional staffing models, stronger recruiting, invest in billing-friendly technology and establish nurse triage or mental health capabilities


Prior to the late 1960s, emergency medical service (EMS) in the United States didn’t exist—at least not in the manner that it is provided today. Ambulances were used to transport patients to hospitals or other healthcare facilities—and not much else. In 1960, only six states had standard education programs for rescue personnel—paramedics and emergency medical technicians didn’t come into being until the early 1970s—and only four states regulated ambulance-design specifications. By 1965, the vast majority of emergency medical services from coast to coast largely were unregulated.

The situation took a turn for the better with the creation of the President’s Council on Highway Safety. A year later the National Highway Safety Act of 1966 was enacted. This law established the Department of Transportation (DOT) and transferred EMS responsibility to it from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). Today, more than 23,000 EMS agencies exist in the U.S. today, according to the 2020 National EMS Assessment report published by the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO). These agencies provide all manner of advanced life support (ALS) and basic life support (BLS) services. But significant challenges still exist for the EMS community. This whitepaper explores the most significant, and offers solutions for resolving them.

How MCP Is Helping

Mission Critical Partners has more than 150 subject-matter experts who collectively are well-versed on the challenges and solutions presented in this whitepaper, from strategic planning, to providing grant application guidance and writing, to performing staffing assessments, to helping agencies adapt their operational strategies and implement new technologies.

To learn more, download the case study using the form provided below.

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