Emergency medical services

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An ambulance in Lausanne, Switzerland. The blue "Star of Life" is a common symbol of emergency medical services.

Emergency medical services (EMS), also known as ambulance services or paramedic services, are agencies that deal with medical emergencies, mostly by sending ambulances to help people who are severely ill or injured. Their job is to treat those people at the scene and to take them to a hospital if needed. The staff of the ambulances are known most often as paramedics. Some ambulances have staff with more basic training, known as "emergency medical technicians", while others have doctors with advanced training.

The exact role of the emergency medical services varies by country. In some countries like the US and UK, their job is seen as bringing the patients to treatment. Until the 1970s, their ambulances carried patients to hospital and gave them little medical care. Since then, paramedics have been trained to give some medical care before they get to hospital. Other countries like France and Germany run them in a different way, where their job is seen as bringing treatment to the patients. In those countries, doctors work on ambulances and they try to treat patients at the scene rather than take them to hospital.

The type of organization that provides emergency medical services also varies by country. This may be: