Emergency Medical Services is a system of care for victims of sudden and serious illness or injury. This system depends on the availability and coordination of many different elements, ranging from an informed public capable of recognizing medical emergencies, to a network of trauma centers capable of providing highly specialized care to the most seriously ill or injured. The 9-1-1 emergency number, search and rescue teams, and prehospital and emergency department personnel are some of the critical elements necessary for the EMS system to work.
Incidents are usually categorized into either medical or trauma. Common medical emergencies are heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrests, or diabetic problems. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among adults in the United States, and the majority of these deaths occur outside of a hospital. Traumatic injuries consist of incidents such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, gunshot wounds, drowning and industrial accidents. The most common cause of serious trauma comes from motor vehicle accidents and trauma is also the most common cause of death in children and adolescents.