Skip to Content

View Additional Section Content

Published on May 19, 2014

Week Honors Dedication of EMS Workers

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The week of May 18 to 24 has been designated as National Emergency Medical Services Week by the American College of Emergency Physicians. The theme for this year's observance is "EMS: Dedicated. For Life."

"National EMS week is a time to recognize the dedication of those who provide lifesaving services on medicine's front line every day," said Eric Mills, manager of ambulance services at University Hospital.

"Because EMS is an extension of health care beyond the doors of the hospital, we often face challenges when providing that care. Extreme weather conditions, topography and other obstacles sometimes work against us; however, we strive to adapt and overcome no matter what the situation. We do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

The concept of medical personnel responding to civilian patient emergencies in the field is relatively new. In 1968, Frank L. Mitchell Jr., M.D., former director of trauma services at University Hospital and a leading figure in the development of trauma care throughout the United States, founded mid-Missouri's first advanced life support ambulance service. Recognizing that patients needed expert care before arriving at a hospital, in addition to rapid transport, Mitchell also began the state's first paramedic training program.

When hard-to-travel country roads delayed getting life-saving care to rural Missourians, Mitchell introduced central Missouri's first emergency helicopter service in 1982.

"Given how young the EMS system as a whole is, our program has a pretty long history compared to others," said Michele Laas, R.N., chief flight nurse for University Hospital's Staff for Life Helicopter Service.

"It was Dr. Mitchell who developed the concept of rapid transport, trained personnel administering care en route and the use of communication between EMS and health facilities so that dedicated medical teams are waiting to provide more advanced care once the patient arrives."

"Emergency medicine is not just about saving lives, but being an asset to the community," Mills said. "We do that not only through the care we provide, but through educating others, such as first responders, throughout the central Missouri area. We share the latest protocols and advancements in technology so that treatment times are shortened. Speed and knowledge are still the keys to successful outcomes."

Today, University of Missouri Health Care operates seven state-of-the-art ambulances that provide pre-hospital care and transportation for citizens throughout Boone County. The Staff for Life Helicopter Service maintains three helicopters in Columbia, Lake Ozark and LaMonte. Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems, the Staff for Life is the only helicopter service in central Missouri that carries blood products, a mobile lab and diagnostic ultrasound.