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About the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system

King County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) operates in a coordinated partnership with five dispatch centers, five paramedic providers, and twenty eight 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 (referred to as a tiered 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.

About the EMS Division

The EMS Division provides the core regional services that are essential to providing the highest quality out-of-hospital emergency care available. These services ensure that hospital patient care is delivered at the same standards across the region, regional policies and practices that reflect the diversity of needs are maintained, and local area service delivery is balanced with centralized interests. In addition to Medic One, EMS regional services consist of medical direction, effective research, and quality assurance, along with community programs, strategic planning, and management of the regional EMS levy fund.

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 policies 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 for four paramedic groups of Advanced Life Support (ALS) service provider agencies and for twenty seven Basic Life Support (BLS) provider 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.