#AtoZchallenge: History of Paramedicine – L is for Legislation

Those who know me know that one of the biggest interests is in the area of Fire/EMS (though I am not, myself a Firefighter or an EMT/Paramedic).  I decided this year to do my A-Z Challenge using the theme “History of Paramedicine….


AtoZ-LModern EMS is believed to have originated back in the days of Napolean, but it wouldn’t be until the 1960’s that major changes would be made.

By 1960 there was a number of unregulated systems throughout the U.S.  Sometimes, physicians would staff the ambulances other times there would only be minimally (or even non) trained personnel.

From 1960 until 1973 a number of events would take place that would eventually lead to a more structured EMS system in the United States.

In 1961, a report was to be presented by a commission empanelled by President Kennedy and chaired by Michael DeBakey to improve the care of patients with heart disease and cancer.  The report is said to have been lost in the shuffle at the time, but the treatment of heart disease, stroke, trauma, and cancer would become an important aspect in the argument of the need for an improved EMS system.  Regional Medical Programs (RMPs) developed in 1964 as a result of the final report of the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care would also have a big impact on the development  of EMS.  Although later disbanded by President Nixon, the legacy of the RMPs  on EMS is significant.

In 1966 a report titled  titled “Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society” commonly known throughout the EMS World as the “White Papers” would have a huge impact on the improvements found (in successive years) in EMS.  This report criticized widespread deficiencies in emergency care and documented absence of quality emergency care.

Also, in 1966 legislation was passed that led to the creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  As a result of the NHTSA EMS training would become standardized, a single emergency number would be stressed and radio communications recommended.  Another big step would be the creation of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (or NREMT) in the early 1970’s

The creation of the Highway Safety Act in 1966 would provide federal involvement to improve EMS in areas such as ambulance specifications, equipment standards, educational requirements, and staffing.  The legislation reflected some of the prevalent themes of the 1960s, which had also been seen in the RMP.

In 1972 an analysis of the EMS system, put together by  the National Academy of Sciences – National Research Council, would show that despite stated EMS commitment, the federal government still lacked  a coherent policy and had failed to sufficiently advance EMS.  A bill was introduced that would “authorize assistance for planning, development and initial operation, research, and training projects for systems for the effective provision of health care services under emergency conditions.”  However, these bills were opposed by Nixon and as a result, they did not pass.   A second bill was introduced that excluded a clause directing the administration to continue the operation of the Public Health Service Hospital.  This time the bill was to pass.

The EMS Systems Act came about in 1973 adapting training curricula for EMT, EMT-P, and First Responders.  New rules would also be established for EMS Radio communications and ambulance specifications

Today, Rules, Policies, and Regulations continue to be ever changing, but the events set in motion in the 60’s and early 70’s continue to shape what EMS is today.





Be sure and check out the EMS History app by Limmer Creative as well as the  EMS Museum website


Here’s some blogs for you to check out:

Shelli RoseWarne (Author of Paranormal Romance)

Sayling Away

God, Entertainment, and Annoying Things


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