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Emergency medical services are a type of quick medical reaction system created to lessen the substantial losses in human life and property that do occur in accidents or other life-threatening situations. The danger could arise from a fast-acting virus that is caught in a matter of minutes or when a chronic disease reaches a point where prompt administration of a fast-acting medication is the only way to treat it. Sometimes, emergency medical services are referred to as paramedic or ambulance services. The naming of this medical service varies from one country to another - a greater variation is observed in Europe and Asia, where terms and reference codes may be conflicting with the norms and social culture of the people. For instance, in the Philippines, the naming system had to be adopted by the national parliament, to adopt a name that could not be in violation with the religious beliefs of some groups. In Northern Philippines and a section of the Buddhist world, there is a belief that an emergency service is a competition with the supernatural being (God) who is the only person to be approached when an emergency service is needed. However, a specific name was adopted to take care of urgency needs, and that was named ‘first aid squad’. It is quite surprising that the name was settled on after two years of parliamentary debates.
Medical Emergency Services
In all the countries of the world, emergency systems and how the emergency services should be provided or managed, are formulated by the legislature and presented to the service providers. The codes of conduct for the emergency service providers are also formulated, and the standards are used all over the country by both the private and public medical service providers. The medical laws are different from one country to another. However, there are some sections of the laws that are applied in all countries, as agreed upon by the International Association of Medical Emergency Service Providers. The article explains the standards as applied in different regions of the world.
Emergency Service Laws in Education, Training and Service Provision
The American Association of Emergency service providers set goals aimed at providing emergency services in the fastest and most efficient way possible, without any biases. This code of conduct refers to the manner in which the services should be provided within the United States of America (Watt, 2013). For instance, the code provides for an equal treatment of humans regardless of their race, color or language. This was after it was observed that there was a partial treatment of the 9/11 victims. Sources revealed that the African and Arab population were not given special medical attention, and hence a large proportion of them succumbed to deaths. However, in the current days, an improvement has been observed regarding the leniency in the offering of emergency services.
The American medical laws also state that military emergency service providers must undergo a compulsory one-year emergency response training before they are officially deployed to the fields to perform military emergency services. During the Second World War in 1942, most of the American medics who were deployed to Vietnam did not have adequate emergency response skills; hence a significant number of soldiers lost their lives in cases that could be prevented by efficient medical services.
The military medical service practice law also states that emergency medical services can only be provided to members of a given military group, failure of which this will be considered treason. Medics are only allowed to give medical services to members of their group, and not the rivals. For example, the 1979 war in Syria was characterized by information leakage to the rival camps due to the wrongful provision of emergency medical services by the American medics. The medics were kidnapped and forced to give information that led to an unexpected attack on the American military bases.
In California, emergency service provider ambulances are only allowed to limit their services to the transport of a person to the point of treatment. No treatment is allowed inside the ambulance since in most cases, the staff is only trained on how to ensure a fast delivery of the patient to the hospital (Simon, 2011). Drivers are trained on how to quickly reach the medical stations by avoiding long routes and traffic jams. Any emergency service provider (assigned to delivery) that is found to be undertaking any other activity apart from delivery is penalized up to 200,000 dollars or faces a five-year imprisonment.
The law also categorizes the levels of emergency services as low, medium and high (which is at times called critical). Hospitals and clinics are then categorized by their capability to handle emergency services. Referral hospitals have the legal clearance to handle any emergency, while the clinics are only restricted to a low level and medium emergencies. According to the law, a clinic found or reported to be handling critical emergency service forces closure, with a monetary bail of up to 500,000 dollars. However, the clinics are legally allowed to transfer any cases that they find too critical to handle, to the referral hospitals. However, this transfer has to be documented and approved by the relevant medical practitioner in the clinic.
Emergency service provider laws categorize the levels of emergency services depending on the organs affected. For example, the critical cases refer to infection of the accessory glands, cardiac and pleural attacks. Cases of abnormal deliveries are also classified as essential, as well as the mental emergency cases. Excessive bleeding and loss of any limb are also categorized as a critical emergency case. However, light bleedings, small fractures, and light headaches are categorized as medium level emergency cases. Light level emergency cases are those that may be handled by the simple administration of light medicines. Therefore, the law also advises that before the emergency courier reaches the hospital, a medic is supposed to communicate the level of emergency to the doctor on the other end, who is then expected to give a fast response to the case. According to the law, any untimely or inadequate response to the case may land the medical doctor to a 5-year jail term and a consequent interdiction.
The Canadian emergency service laws give specialized hospitals the mandate to handle emergency cases that are in line with their area of specialization. For example, the hospitals may be categorized into dental, optical, cardiac, or psychiatric hospitals. Others may be specifically dealing with children (pediatric), and the mentally disabled, which are referred to as the mental hospitals (Grol Giesen, 2016). A specialized hospital shall therefore only deal with the case that is in line with their area of specialization. For instance, an emergency case for an accidental eyeball fracture may be reported. Such a case should only be dealt with by a hospital that specializes in the provision of optical services. Any diversion from the area of specialization is punishable by the closure of the hospital. If the hospital is private, the owner may be arrested and charged for involvement in illegal business, and the risk of human life.
The legal systems have also set maritime emergency laws that are only applied for cases of marine emergency cases. In Turkey, the legislature formulated policies for the rescue of people drowning and those attacked by marine animals. The laws were also extended to the service of victims of floods and the destruction of residential places due to tornados (Alexander, 2015). The law also provides specialized training for the staff and their codes of conduct. Moreover, the locations of the emergency stations are also articulated, as well as the duration that the staffs are supposed to take before they reach the emergency points. The law states that for one to be qualified to handle marine emergency cases he/she must undergo a thorough one and half year training that is accompanied by a comprehensive, practical work. The training must also involve simulated cases for marine emergencies. For example, the intentional drowning of members of the staff calls for an immediate response of a speed boat and deep sea divers to salvage the situation. The marine emergency law also specifies the technical details of speed boats and floaters to be used in response to an emergency - a speed boat must be not less than 50 horsepower capacity, for a quick speed response. In the laws, an emergency station should be located not more than 100 meters from the sea shore, for immediate access to the emergency point.
In cases of floods, the law articulates that ground vessels and the airborne vessels such as choppers and drones can work together for the rescue of people and equipment. The law recommends not less than five years training for the pilots and drone controllers. In cases where some equipment is submerged, the law advises the corporation of airborne equipment and submarine to bring to the surface and airlift the equipment to safety.
In Netherlands, the law allows for the use of all kinds of emergency response modes - land, airborne and submarine devices. However, for the airborne devices only two people are allowed to respond to the emergencies at a time (Grol Giesen, 2016). The medical team must also be composed of a staff that has vast experience in emergency surgery, such that in case an emergency operation is required at the point of emergency, equipment is availed and surgery operation performed ‘within safe time’. The law also gives separate functions for the airplanes and ground vehicles - the airplanes are only designed to deliver the team members and not for medical transport. Medical transport is provided by the ambulances, which only come to act when an emergency call is made to the management. Moreover, the government also regulates the specifications of vehicles to be used for emergency responses. For example, land transport vehicles for emergency responses must not be more than 1500 kilograms for a faster movement. It has been observed that the American and British emergency response standards are almost the same as those of the Netherlands.
Emergency response systems have been fundamental in the reduction of the number of deaths and loss of property and this has sent many parts of the world to retain their level of economic stability. The laws are formed to dictate the qualifications that must be met by the staff and equipment. Moreover, the regulations also indicate the technical details that emergency transport equipment has to meet. The laws also provide for the response time, speed and nature of emergency cases that different level of hospitals can respond to. It is, therefore, advisable for the medical emergency service providers to abide by the rules for an efficient provision of emergency services.
Alexander, K. (2015). Prehospital Systems and Medical Oversight. Lowa: Dubugue publishers.
Grol Giesen, V. U. (2016). After Hours Care In The United Kingdom, Denmark, And The Netherlands. Paris: Ogden printing press.
Simon, C. W. (2011). Variation in Emergency Ambulance Dispatch in Western Europe. Groningen: University of Groningen.
Watt, D. (2013). Anglo American Vs Franco-German Emergency Medical Services System. San Francisco: San Francisco medical press.
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