What is an Emergency Medical Transport?

Emergency medical transport refers to services that transport people from the place at which it is determined that they need medical care to a provider—often a hospital—or transports them between care facilities, if such a transfer is necessary. Emergency medical transport is more than just a system for safe transportation of ill or injured patients, however. The transport services include pre-hospital care as well as ongoing care during transfer for patients going from one health care facility to another.

The people who provide emergency medical transport have special training for the demands of the job. In most common circumstances, the transport is arranged by a 911 operator or public safety dispatcher. This person, who may be qualified as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), is responsible for assessing situations and making decisions about which situations require emergency medical transport. The dispatcher may provide instructions and other emergency personnel may provide support until the emergency transport arrives. At that point the paramedic who travels with the transport—whether ambulance, helicopter, or other vehicle—will most likely take over, because often, the person for whom emergency medical transport was called must be medically stabilized before being transported to the closest emergency room or trauma unit.


There are many reasons why special transport would be needed to bring a patient to a place of treatment. There are fairly ordinary situations in which a patient simply cannot get to a place of treatment under their own power. But there are also cases such as patients needing to be brought to a medical facility from a battlefield or disaster site, and this may require exceptional lengths of time or special means of transportation.

MEDEVAC stands for medical evacuation. MEDEVAC is a specialized type of emergency medical transport. It uses specifically equipped ambulances—both on the ground and in the air—to care for trauma patients as they are recovered from situations that may be remote or difficult to reach by ordinary methods of transportation.

It is now the case that paramedics and nurses who are involved in emergency medical transport between facilities can receive special training and certification that expands their scope of practice to deal with the specific demands of this type of transport, when the full medical staff is not available. Called the Critical Care Emergency Transport Program (CCEMTP), it is an education program developed at University of Maryland, Baltimore. Note that the completion of the course is not enough: the expanded realm of practice must receive state and local approval for the EMT to practice what she has learned. There is also training available to become a Certified Flight Paramedic (FP-C). Although there is no course for this certification, there is an exam. Either CCEMTP or FP-C certification may be required for those wishing to work as flight medics.



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