Emergency medical services system

Historical background of EMSS

The construction of an emergency medical services system (EMSS) is done to expand emergency medical services outside of hospitals from a medical perspective and to improve social security and welfare from a social perspective. If seen from a national level, it is a part of a country’s social security and welfare policy that corresponds with the increased interest in national health and safety.

As in the case of advanced countries, the construction and development of the EMSS in Korea is a result of the economic development achieved by the consecutive successes of 5-year economic development plans, the improvement of people’s lives and awareness, and the experiences of big accidents and disasters.

Although the principles and objectives for constructing an EMSS are similar, each country might have an EMSS with different, unique characteristics since they have different social and medical systems and natural environments.
As such, it is difficult to say which country’s or what type of EMSS is superior. How much effort is put into the improvement and development of an EMSS is more significant.
To define the EMSS more specifically, it is to reorganize the manpower, facilities, and equipment in regions to an optimal size so as to organically operate them to provide effective and prompt medical service in case of emergency.
In other words, the construction of an organic, cooperative system between 119 paramedics and hospital EMS teams is a prerequisite for quickly and safely transporting emergency patients to a hospital that is appropriate for treatment after practicing the appropriate treatment at the scene and providing the best EMS within a short amount of time.

Construction and
activity phases of EMSS
  • 1 Citizen activation
  • 2 report registration and dispatch
  • 3 pre-hospital care
  • 4 hospital care
  • 5 rehabilitation

The trend of Korean EMSS

우리나라 응급의료체계의 흐름을 병원 전단계와 병원 단계로 구분
EMSS operational phases

The EMSS is largely divided into a “pre-hospital phase” and an “in-hospital phase.” The specifications of each phase are as follows.

Pre-hospital phase
  • 1.Accident report and dispatch of ambulance.
  • 2.Guidance for emergency treatment provided by the 119 operator (dispatcher) until the ambulance arrives at the scene.
  • 3.Emergency treatment by 119 (emergency medical technician, paramedics) at the scene.
  • 4.Decision on a hospital to transport patient to by sharing information between ambulance and hospital using telecommunications system. Treatment is provided during transport.
In-hospital phase
  • 1.Examination of treatment given at the scene and continuing emergency treatment.
  • 2.Appropriate examinations needed for diagnosis.
  • 3.Decision on hospitalization (ICU, general ward) or emergency surgery.
  • 4.Decision on whether to transfer patient to a professional emergency center (injury, burn, poison, cardiovascular center, etc.) equipped with medical team or facilities and equipment required for emergency treatment of the patient. Decision on the hospital to which the patient is to be transferred.