Nomenclature of the EMS Profession

The goal of this project is to bring together key EMS stakeholders to discuss and share viewpoints regarding the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) advisory on EMS nomenclature.


There has been much discussion in the EMS industry about whether the term “emergency medical services” and associated titles used to describe clinicians are still appropriate. The National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) made a recommendation to NHTSA Office of EMS (OEMS) and the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS) to change the nomenclature. The full recommendation, entitled “Changing the Nomenclature of Emergency Medical Services is Necessary,” addresses many issues surrounding the nomenclature of emergency medical services.

“A diverse array of terms has accumulated over time to describe this field of health care and its practitioners,” reads the advisory. “This acts to frequently confuse colleagues within the industry, providers of other public safety and health care agencies, the media and our legislators, as well as the general public.”

What's Happening Now

To address NEMSAC’s recommendations, several EMS stakeholder organizations were invited to participate in a series of facilitated meetings to engage in dialogue and share their organizations’ and members’ views on nomenclature in the profession. In March 2019, more than two dozen EMS leaders, representing thousands of members of their organizations, came together at an in-person and teleconference meeting to deliver a white paper draft. The draft was released for public comment in October. The Development Team will review the feedback and create the final white paper to deliver to NHTSA in January 2020.

What You Can Do

Who's Involved

Funding was provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of EMS, and the Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s EMS for Children Program.

The series of discussions regarding the Nomenclature of the EMS Profession are facilitated by EMS educator and researcher Baxter Larmon, PhD.

The following national EMS organizations have appointed a representative to be members of the Stakeholder Work Group. Member responsibilities include attending and participating in the discussions at the three facilitated meetings.

  • International Association of Fire Fighters
  • International Association of Flight & Critical Care Paramedics
  • National Association of County & City Health Officials
  • National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
  • National Association of EMS Educators
  • National Association of EMS Physicians
  • National Association of State EMS Officials
  • National Collegiate EMS Foundation
  • National EMS Management Association
  • National Fire Protection Association
  • National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health
  • National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians
  • National Volunteer Fire Council
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs
  • Academy of International Mobile Health Integration
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Ambulance Association
  • American College of Emergency Physicians
  • American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma
  • Association of Air Medical Services
  • Association of Critical Care Transport
  • Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services
  • Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems
  • Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions
  • Emergency Nurses Association
  • EMS for Children Innovation & Improvement Center
  • International Association of EMS Chiefs

It is important that all organizations involved with EMS have an opportunity to provide input to this effort. Although the Stakeholder Working Group size is limited, an Organizational Liaison Group has been created to provide a path for multiple entities to engage in the discussion. The below organizations have been invited to assign a representative to participate in the project’s Organizational Liaison Group. Liaison responsibilities include attending the three facilitated meetings and participating in public comment periods.

  • Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association
  • Air Medical Physician Association
  • Ambulance Manufacturers Division of the NTEA
  • American Academy of Emergency Medicine
  • American College of Cardiology
  • American Heart Association
  • American Public Health Association
  • American Society for Testing and Materials
  • American Trauma Society
  • Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials
  • Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
  • California Paramedic Foundation
  • Center for Patient Safety
  • Commission on Accreditation for Pre-Hospital Continuing Education
  • Community Paramedicine Association and Registry
  • International Academies of Emergency Dispatch
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • International Association of Emergency Managers
  • International City/County Managers Association
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • International Association of Emergency Managers
  • International City/County Managers Association
  • International Paramedic Registry
  • International Trauma Life Support
  • National Association for Search and Rescue
  • National Association of State 911 Administrators
  • National Emergency Management Association
  • National Emergency Number Association
  • National EMS Pilots Association
  • National League of Cities
  • National Native American EMS Association
  • National Rural Health Association
  • National Safety Council
  • Paramedic Health Solutions
  • Parent Heart Watch
  • Prehospital Care Research Forum
  • Red Cross
  • Society for Academic Emergency Medicine
  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation