Emergency medical services system

Historical background of EMSS

It is not too much to say that the EMSS began with an effort to provide on-site treatment and transport patients on the battlefield where lots of casualties occur.
Napoleon’s medical adviser Dominique-Jean Larrey introduced combat medics and emergency wagons on the battlefield to provide emergency treatment to wounded soldiers, and more recently, wounded soldiers were transported via helicopter or airplane during the Vietnam War. As such, the EMSS has been continuously developed in terms of organization, manpower, equipment, and operation.

Napoleonic Wars
Dominique-Jean Larrey
Crimean War
Florence Nightingale
American Civil War
Introduction of the concepts of Napoleon’s surgeon
First World War
Introduction of fracture fixing surgery
Spanish War
Blood transfusion at the scene
Second World War
On-site shock treatment, air transport
Korean War
Kidney physiology, transporting patients using helicopter
Vietnam War
ARDS electric generation, transporting patients using aircraft

EMSS trends in Korea

The USA and European countries have operated separate organizations for emergency patients with national support since the 1960s. Korea began transporting emergency patients in the 1980s as a public service. Following various accidents in the 1990s, Korea felt a dire need for an organizational system for the effective execution of emergency medical services. The Emergency Medical Service Act, promulgated in 1994, served as a starting point for the construction of a modern EMSS in Korea, and by the 2000s, the EMSS in Korea had become as advanced as those in advanced countries.


Amendment of Emergency Medical Service Act

Expansion of EMSS nationwide
Fire stations in full charge of patient transport task Changed name from Emergency Patient Information Center to Emergency Medical Information Center and moved from the Korean National Red Cross to local emergency medical services centers. The National Medical Center is designated as the National Emergency Medical Center
Changed the Emergency Patient Information Center’s registration number (129->1339)
Held the First Emergency Medical Specialist Qualifying Examination and produced 51 medical specialists.
Held the first Emergency Medical Technician Qualifying Examination and produced 347 first-level technicians and 363 second-level technicians
Opened Emergency Rescue Division in college to cultivate first-level emergency medical technicians
Enforcement of the Emergency Medical Service Act and Ordinance Recognized as professional emergency medicine course
Enactment of the Emergency Medical Service Act (Presidential Decree No. 14496)
Proclamation of Emergency Medical Service Act (Legislation No. 4730)
Proclamation of Emergency Medical Service Operation and Management Regulations (Health Department’s decree)
  • Construction of telecommunications network: 11 across the nation
    Establishment of Emergency Patient Information Center (129) and designation of 60 Emergency Medical Service Centers to construct wireless communications network
  • Selection of designated emergency medical service centers
  • Cultivation of emergency medical technicians and preparation of standard for ambulances
Cultivation of emergency medical technicians and preparation of standard for ambulances
Foundation of the Korean Society of Emergency Medicine, establishment of Emergency Medicine Division and began specialist training, began National Medical Insurance
Operation of Night Emergency Patient Report Center under the supervision of the Korean Society of Emergency Medicine
Began the medical insurance system

Establishment of social consensus on the importance of an EMS following various fatal accidents

Train overturned at Gupo Station (93), Aircraft headed for Mokpo crashed (93), sinking of ferry (Seohae Ferry, 93), collapse of Seongsu Bridge (94), Fire on Chungjuho cruise ship (94), gas explosion in Ahyeon-dong (94), gas explosion in Daegu subway (95), collapse of Sampoong Department Store (95), etc.