A new ASTM standard describes EMS structures and levels

A new ASTM standard describes EMS structures and levels

The membership of the standardswriting organization known as ASTM has approved guidelines for the development, delivery, and assessment of emergency medical services.

The document is titled F1086-87, “Standard Guide for Structures and Responsibilities of Emergency Medical Services Systems Organizations.” It “provides a basic structure that any EMS organization can fit itself into,” and much of the country already does, says Edward J. Craren, assistant director of EMS for the Nebraska Health Department and chairman of the task force that wrote the standard. The process was thorough, taking three years and 14 drafts.

State, local, and regional responsibilities are outlined, with further standards expected to be necessary for implementation.

A state government’s role would be to adopt legislation establishing authority and responsibility, develop and enforce minimum regulations, provide funds, set up technical assistance such as training and record keeping, and handle overall coordination within the state, among states, and with the federal government.

Regional EMS systems, if they exist, would function in state-defined “catchment areas.” Whether governmental or private entities, they would coordinate standards and program policies among professional societies, public safety and other governmental agencies, legislative bodies, and local EMS.

Service delivery, finally, is the job of the local EMS. The main responsibility for quality assurance is at that level, the document states, and local EMS agencies should develop standards on continuing education, the minimum number of qualified ambulance attendants, and training.

F1086-87 is one of the first products of ASTM’s effort to provide independent standards for EMS. Printed copies will be available this month from ASTM, 1916 Race St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.

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