A well organized, efficiently operating, rapidly responding emergency medical services department provided by a well trained, well equipped, courteous and highly motivated emergency medical team.
To rapidly respond to the calls of the ill and injured with a view to saving lives and promote recovery.
International EMS motto
“A system to save a life”
Emergency Medical Services (E.M.S.) is a representation of the pre-hospital aspect of emergency medical care. E.M.S. crews are usually the first medical professionals responding to the scene of an emergency (whether illness or injury). They carry out the initial assessment, stabilization and treatment for the patient. The injured patient is immobilized on a spine board if needed, placed on a stretcher and transported to the healthcare facility or hospital for further management.
The international motto of E.M.S. is “a system to save a life”. The international symbol of E.M.S. is the Star of Life. Each arm of the star represents one of six points or stages of high quality pre-hospital care – Early Detection, Early Reporting, Early Response, On Scene Care, Care in Transit and Transfer to Definitive Care. E.M.S. exists to fulfill the basic principles of first aid, which are to Preserve Life, Prevent Further Injury and Promote Recovery.
The National Emergency Medical Services (N.E.M.S.) is the public or governmental system. It is an agency of the Public Hospitals Authority and is headed by a full-time Medical Director who is a Consultant Emergency Medicine Specialist; a first in the Department’s history.
N.E.M.S. has 112 staff members stationed at these locations:
- An EMS base station located at First Terrace, Centreville.
- A Paradise Island substation
- E-919 Central Emergency Medical Dispatch Unit located at the Royal Bahamas Police Force Control Room
- The Grand Bahama EMS service. Since March 2012, dispatchers of the Grand Bahama EMS commenced utilization of a computer-aided dispatch system and were relocated to the Royal Bahamas Police Force Control Room in Freeport.
- The Abaco EMS service
N.E.M.S. had its beginnings in 1949 when a ground ambulance service was implemented in New Providence attached to the Princess Margaret Hospital. Special work began in 1993 to upgrade and expand these services to a coordinated, professional response system for pre-hospital emergency care throughout the Bahamas. In 1999, N.E.M.S. became a part of the Enhanced 919 system. In New Providence and Grand Bahama E.M.S. may be accessed by dialing 919 or 911. This is a common emergency response number that networks police, fire and ambulance for a comprehensive emergency response. The N.E.M.S. service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including weekends and holidays. Since September 2010 provisions were made for an ambulance to be dispatched from the E.M.S. room located at the Lynden Pindling International Airport from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. on weekdays. N.E.M.S. has a full range of highly trained staff, equipment and protocols. The staffing levels of N.E.M.S. presently include Emergency Vehicle Operators/Ambulance Drivers, Emergency Services Technicians, Emergency Medical Technicians (basic and intermediate), Paramedics, and Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatchers.
The Family Island (voluntary) First Responder Program, the concept of which is for EMS personnel to train laypersons within the Family Island communities in the principles of First Aid and Basic Life Support, as well as Emergency Vehicle Operation so that they may assist in the event of an emergency on their island, was launched in 1999 with the first group of volunteers being trained on the island of Abaco. Over the years scores of laypersons have been trained, some of whom on a voluntary basis operate ambulances in association with the medical staff of some Family Island clinics that fall under the purview of the Department of Public Health.
With respect to the training requirements for the various staff levels, the N.E.M.S follows the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration National EMS Education Standards for Emergency Medical Responder, EMT, Advanced EMT and Paramedic training. Our technicians post training would sit the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification examination or a state licensing examination and would have to be registered and licensed with the Heath Professions Council of the Bahamas. The Dispatchers are trained through the United States National Academies of Emergency Medical Dispatch as Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatchers.
NEMS Dispatch comprises a team of certified emergency medical dispatchers whose mission is to rapidly respond to the calls of the ill and injured with a view to saving lives and promoting recovery. Advanced emergency medical dispatchers provide a zero minute response to medical care by providing pre-arrival and post-dispatch instructions for the caller. Additionally, dispatchers function as medical professionals who act as counselors, managers, liaison and statistical officers and are the first link to emergency medical services.
All Emergency Medical Dispatchers are fully trained and certified in the following:-
- Internationally Certified by the National Academies of Advanced Emergency Dispatch in the Medical Priority Dispatch System
- BLS (Basic Life support inclusive of CPR)
- CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch)
- AS 400
When to Call 919 / 911 for Medical Help
Many people are uncertain when to dial 919/911 for medical assistance. Examples of when to call 919/911 for help include, but is not limited to an individual:
- Not breathing or having difficulty breathing
- Gasping for air or turning blue or purple
- Choking and the obstruction cannot be cleared
- Unconscious, faint, not alert or making funny noises
- Experiencing chest pains, constricting bands, or crushing discomfort around the chest area, even if the pain stops
- Experiencing unusual numbness, tightness, pressure, or aching pain in their chest, neck, jaw, arm or back
- Experiencing an allergic reaction of any kind (breathing difficulty or facial swelling)
- Having a seizure or convulsion
- Experiencing uncontrollable jerking movements
- Bleeding or spurting blood that can’t be stopped
- Being involved in a traffic accident with injuries
- Having burns over an area larger than the palm of your hand
- Experiencing electrical burns or shock
- Experiencing severe injuries or is the victim of trauma or an attack
What to Expect When You Call 919 / 911
Typically, a professional Emergency Dispatcher with specialized training to deal with crises over the phone will answer your call to 919/911. Be prepared to briefly explain your exact situation. Dispatchers are trained to provide real-time instruction in CPR and life-saving first aid while simultaneously dispatching Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals to your location. Listen to the Dispatcher and follow their instructions. To ensure that the right agency with the right equipment are sent to the correct location, the 9-1-9 Dispatcher must ask you specific questions. Sometimes in an emergency, it may seem like these questions are being asked to determine whether or not you need help. Remember, trained Dispatchers never ask questions that are unnecessary.
The Dispatcher will always ask you to state the address of the emergency and your callback number for verification. They know how important it is to do it “right” and not just “fast”. Getting this critical information from the caller typically takes less than 30 seconds. In all cases, remember the most important thing you can do when calling 919/911 is to LISTEN CAREFULLY. Always do whatever the Dispatcher asks you to do and be cooperative.
There are six basic bits of information that the dispatcher will ask every caller:
- Location/address of emergency.
- Caller’s name and call back number.
- What is happening?
- The age and sex of the person needing medical help.
- Is the person awake?
- Is the person breathing?
- Listen carefully and follow the instructions of the Dispatcher.
- Write down the phone number and the easiest direction to your home and put it near your telephone. In the event of an emergency, you can just read it to the Dispatcher if you are overwhelmed or if a child has to call for help.
- Do not tell your children to dial “Nine-Eleven”. Since there is no “eleven” on the telephone keypad, this may confuse the child in an emergency. Always teach “Nine-one-one/or Nine-one-nine” as the emergency number.
- Put away all pets before the ambulance arrives.
- Have someone outside to meet the ambulance, if possible.
- Gather medications for the EMS responders.
- Remember to discuss with your children when and how to call 919/911 in the event of an emergency.
National Emergency Medical Services
First Terrace, Centreville
P.O. Box N-8200
Main Telephone: (242) 322-3434
Dispatch: 919 / 911