Systems Overview

Healthcare StarEmergency medical services (EMS) is a system of care in place to address the needs of those experiencing a medical or traumatic emergency. In Cabarrus County, this system is comprised of many dedicated professionals including volunteer and paid. Included in this system are emergency medical dispatchers, emergency medical technicians, emergency medical technician-intermediate, medical responders, and paramedics.

Cabarrus County ambulances are staffed with paramedics, the highest level of pre-hospital care available. Paramedics perform many basic and advanced life support skills. Many of the advanced procedures performed in doctor offices and emergency departments are delivered to the scene of emergencies using paramedics. A list of procedures and skills performed by paramedics may be viewed in the protocols.

First responder services in Cabarrus County are provided by paid and volunteer fire and rescue services. These dedicated professionals initiate basic life support care at the scene prior to paramedic arrival and continue to provide supportive care and assistance throughout the call. First responder services are a vital component of the emergency medical services system. Those providing first responder care are typically credentialed as medical responders, emergency medical technicians, or emergency medical technician-intermediates.

The Cabarrus County communications center receives calls for medical and traumatic emergencies. The center is responsible for notification of ambulance resources for response, determining severity of emergency for response priority, and providing pre-arrival care instructions as appropriate. Cabarrus County communications staff maintain credentials as emergency medical dispatchers.

Practice in the pre-hospital profession has advanced significantly since the days of basic CPR and first aid. Once a system of “fast horizontal transport”, care has evolved into comprehensive medical assistance being delivered to the scene. Surprisingly, EMS is often asked “do you carry oxygen” as a throwback to the initial days of ambulance transport. Yes, we do carry oxygen, advanced airway devices, multiple medications, IV, and monitoring devices. Patients are treated on the scene with critical interventions and then transported to appropriate facilities with care continuing under the guidance of physician directed protocols.

Those choosing to volunteer in the EMS profession or seeking a career are committing themselves in service to others. The following hours represent the minimal level of training to achieve each level of credential: medical responder – 69 hours; emergency medical technician (EMT) – 169 hours; emergency Medical technician-intermediate (EMT-I) – 256 hours; and paramedic – 1096 hours plus completion of college level anatomy and physiology. Paramedic credentialing also requires the completion of EMT and EMT-I training. In addition to the standard curriculum hours, EMS professionals are required to meet other extensive educational requirements in a variety of topics to include incident management, rescue scene, specialty response, etc. EMS professionals in Cabarrus County must maintain a minimum of 36 hours of annual continuing education.

The EMS system in Cabarrus County stands ready to respond. Contact Alan Thompson at dathompson@cabarruscounty.us for additional system information.