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Public Health - Seattle & King County

An introduction to the EMS Division

King County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) operates in a coordinated partnership with five dispatch centers, six paramedic providers, and thirty fire departments. This partnership also requires collaboration with local hospital emergency departments, private ambulance companies, and other organizations.

Through this partnership, King County EMS provides EMS and regional services to all of King County outside the City of Seattle. All EMS services within the City of Seattle are coordinated through the Seattle Fire Department.

King County EMS utilizes a layered-response system providing a continuum of care for people in need of emergency medical services. The continuum begins with universal access to medical care through 9-1-1. The 9-1-1 number allows all telephone calls to be immediately connected to a dispatcher. Once a call has been received, dispatchers use specific dispatch triage guidelines to determine the level of care required.

In life-threatening situations, such as cardiac arrest, paramedics providing Advanced Life Support (ALS) services respond to the scene. In less urgent cases, such as a fractured leg, Emergency Medical Technicians providing Basic Life Support (BLS) services respond to the call. Once a patient is stabilized, it is determined whether they need further medical attention and transport is provided either by an ALS agency, BLS agency, or private ambulance.

Regional administration and regional EMS services are provided by the EMS Division of Public Health - Seattle & King County, with an emphasis on standardized training and medical direction, effective research, and quality assurance. Community programs and strategic planning are also integral parts of this regional system.

In addition to Medic One, the EMS regional services consist of Community Programs & Education, Basic Life Support/Emergency Medical Technician Training, Central Region Trauma Care Council, Center for Evaluation, and Administration.

EMS Administration

King County Emergency Medical Services Administration section has direct administrative responsibility for the management and coordination of Regional activities, such as:

  • personnel and payroll
  • union negotiations
  • diversity management
  • issuance and management of polices and procedures
  • legal compliance and liability issues,
  • contract administration
  • long term financial planning
  • management of levy funds
  • strategic initiatives

The division directly oversees all divisional contracts, including those with five paramedic groups of advanced life support service provider agencies (ALS) and for 29 Basic Life Support Provider (BLS) agencies. The section maintains fiscal responsibilities including budget preparation, the projection of long term financial planning, and the management of levy funds.

The EMS Administration section coordinates services with other divisions of Public Health - Seattle & King County and other county agencies, councils, and offices such as the Prosecuting Attorney, King County Executive, Risk Management, and the King County Council. The division maintains close relationships with the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center, and ongoing cooperation with local hospitals and medical providers.

Embedded within King County Emergency Medical Services Administration are the sections that furnish integrated regional direction. In collaboration with their county partners, these sections provide the quality direction of data collection and planning, medical oversight, basic life support training, community training and education, and research. This attention to detail by dedicated professionals provides efficient services with a nationwide reputation for excellence to the citizens and visitors of King County.