Background of Emergency Medical Services for Children

Emergency Medical Services systems began development in the late 1960's. These systems were largely derived from military experiences, which demonstrated that survival could be greatly enhanced through appropriate triage, timely transport and prehospital care. They tended, however, to focus primarily on adult care while specialized pediatric needs received limited attention at best. As a result, while outcomes for adults in emergency situations improved dramatically, children's outcomes did not keep pace.

Children are not "small adults". The ill and injured child has very special needs and requires a different approach to care than an adult. In the mid-1970's there grew recognition that the emergency care needs of the pediatric population were not being adequately addressed. This led to the establishment of the National Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) program in 1985. This program, sponsored through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau  and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, emphasizes the need for states to ensure the availability of appropriate resources and adequately trained personnel in order to effectively meet the emergency care needs of the critically ill and injured child. Federal funds are available to states to assist in improving the pediatric component of their EMS system.