Rescue doctors provide on-scene care

Washington University has the only Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program in Missouri that routinely sends emergency medicine physicians along with its own ambulances to treat trauma patients at disaster scenes.

WU EMS vehicles are equipped with standard sirens and lights, cardiac monitors, medications and advanced airway instrumentation — everything needed to save a patient when every second counts.

“We are bringing Washington University into the community by providing the expertise of our physicians,” says David K. Tan, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine and medical director of WU EMS. “I am convinced that we provide better medical care by being out in the field with our EMS colleagues.”

WU EMS oversees many EMS agencies in the St. Louis area, including the Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District, Clayton Fire Department and Christian Hospital EMS. Tan and other emergency medicine physicians, including EMS fellows, are on call around the clock and rotate shifts at participating agencies. In a typical week, a physician might go on a dozen ambulance calls.

During their shifts, physicians also meet regularly with chief medical officers and fire chiefs and present classroom lectures on procedures for other personnel.