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About EMS

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About EMS

Modern EMS in Tennessee was created by state legislation in 1972.  This law authorized the training of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and mandated the creation of standards for ambulances and medical equipment. The Office of EMS was formed to coordinate training and certification of EMTs, implement ambulance licensing standards to include vehicle inspection and permitting and plan EMS system development. An EMS Advisory Council was established to advise the Department of Health on EMS policy and regulations.

In 1973 legislation mandated the training and certification of Paramedics. In 1977 legislation authorized the creation and management of a statewide system of EMS radio communications. This completed the legal authorization for the initial development of Tennessee’s EMS system.

In 1983 the EMS Advisory Council and the Department of Health sponsored legislation to create the state EMS Board. The legislation passed and the first EMS Board in the U.S. met in June of 1983. The Board is comprised of thirteen persons appointed by the Governor. It is authorized to establish all EMS rules and to serve as an appeals body for cases the Department brings against EMS providers.

Since 1983 the Board has regulated the EMS system through a consensus process involving several standing and ad hoc committees. EMS providers thereby have input into the rules that govern EMS.

Today the EMS Office, operating under the rules of the EMS Board, oversees a statewide EMS system comprised of thousands of Paramedics and EMTs who work for 210 ambulance services that operate 1,300 ambulances that make more than 1,000,000 patient transports annually.

Office of EMS
665 Mainstream Drive
Nashville, TN  37243
Fax: 615-741-4217



Hospital trauma centers are designated under the rules of the Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities (BLHCF). Hospitals voluntarily seek trauma center designation in order to care for the most seriously injured patients with the goal of reducing patient mortality and morbidity. About 18,000 patients are admitted to Tennessee trauma centers annually, with more than 15,000 seen at six level one centers located in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Johnson City and Kingsport.

The EMS Division is responsible for conducting the inspection process by contracting with qualified trauma surgeons and nurses and scheduling trauma center inspections, that are conducted twice within the five-year designation period stipulated in BLHCF rules.


Tennessee EMS Telecommunications (Radio)

The Office of Emergency Medical Services coordinates provision of effective and rapid delivery of emergency medical services to the general population and operational radio communications between ambulances and hospitals. The Office maintains liaison with emergency service agencies and the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board concerning access of emergency medical services through the 911 emergency-telephone system.Communications

Telecommunications coordination is a responsibility established in Tennessee Code Annotated, Title §68-140-201 et seq. Special radio systems and frequencies are used to dispatch ambulances and provide for medical communications between the ambulance and hospital. These components are identified in EMS rules and the EMS Telecommunications Plan, which was last revised in June 1997.

The Federal Communications Commission must license EMS radio stations or communications systems. Information on federal regulations, licensing requirements, and forms may be obtained from their website,

Regional Medical Communications Center (RMCC)

An RMCC is a state designated communications entity with a regional mission and focus that coordinates hospitals, ambulance services and other medical resources, in real time, to optimize emergency patient care in situations where local governments and health care providers request assistance. RMCCs are authorized by TCA 68-140-201—208 and EMS Board rules 1200-12-1-.08.

The Regional Medical Communication Centers are located in Johnson City, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Cookeville, Nashville, Columbia, Jackson and Memphis.

Regional EMS System

A multi-county system comprised of all hospitals, ambulance services, dispatch centers and related entities that functions as an interactive emergency health care network coordinated through a regional medical communications center for the purposes of providing medical information and coordinating patient movement and medical resources.

Peer Assistance Program

Peer Assistance Program

The Tennessee Professional Assistance Program (TNPAP) is a voluntary program made available through the Tennessee Board of Emergency Medical Services. The program offers consultation, referral, and monitoring for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Providers whose practice is impaired, or potentially impaired, due to the use of drugs or alcohol, or psychological or physiological condition.

A referral can be made confidentially by an employer, Employee Assistance Program, co-worker, family member, friend, or the practitioner her/himself. If the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Provider is willing to undergo a thorough evaluation to determine the extent of the problem and any treatment needed, all information is kept confidential from the EMS Board and the EMS Provider does not face disciplinary action against his/her professional license.

Addiction is a significant problem among all health care professionals, in all areas of the country. It is a chronic, progressive illness that can be treated effectively. As with all chronic illnesses, the earlier the identification and treatment, the better the prognosis.
Some signs of addiction in EMS Providers are listed below:

  • Mood swings; inappropriate behavior at work; frequent days off for implausible reasons; non-compliance with acceptable policies and procedures; deteriorating appearance; deteriorating job performance; sloppy, illegible charting; errors in charting; alcohol on the breath; forgetfulness; poor judgment, concentration, and lying.
  • Other characteristics of addiction include high achievement, both as a student and an EMS Providers, volunteering for overtime and extra duties, no drug use until prescribed following surgery or a chronic illness, and family history of alcoholism or addiction.

Of course, any of these characteristics may be symptoms of a number of other problems besides addiction.

If you have questions or concerns, contact the Tennessee Professional Assistance Program. The staff is centrally located in Nashville, but will assist with an EMS Provider in any part of the state. TNPAP can also be utilized to provide educational presentations regarding addiction for institutions, professional organizations, EMS educational programs and schools.  You can contact their office for more information or to schedule a presentation.

Tennessee Professional Assistance Program
545 Mainstream Drive, Suite 414
Nashville, TN 37228-1201
Phone: 615-726-4001 or
Toll Free: 1-888-776-0786
Fax: 615-467-6616
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday