Many colleges and universities appear to exist in relative isolation from community-based emergency medical services (EMS) systems. In response, some have developed their own EMS systems.
To determine the extent of this phenomenon and to delineate the characteristics of these systems.
Questionnaires were mailed to 1,503 colleges/universities in the United States and Canada. The questionnaire asked whether the institution had an EMS system and included 19 questions about the characteristics of the system.
A total of 919 (61 %) responses were received. Of the institutions responding, 234 (25%) had an EMS system and 31 (3.4%) were considering starting a system. Characteristics of the systems were as follows: 1) Types of patients—the two most common call types were medical and trauma/surgical; 134 (57%) reported one-fourth of calls to be medical and 91 (39%) reported one-fourth of calls to be trauma/surgical. 2) Type of service—133 (57%) services transport patients; 195 (83%) respond only to the campus or other university property; the remainder also respond to the community; and 135 (58%) function all year. 3) Dispatch—178 (76%) are dispatched by the campus police, although most services are dispatched by several sources; 46 (20%) use 9-1-1. 4) Personnel—two systems (0.85%) exclusively employ paramedic; 141 systems (60%) have at least one emergency medical technician; the remainder use emergency care attendants and first-aid providers; 118 (50%) have medical directors, of these 76 (64 %) are student health physicians and 21 (18%) are community physicians. 5) Demographic Information—The majority of the campus-based EMS systems exist on small campuses in urban areas.
A significant number of colleges/universities have EMS systems and one-half transport patients. However, the level of training of the personnel and medical direction may be below the standard for the EMS systems in the communities in which these campus-based systems exist.