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Emergency Medical Service Links


Other Emergency Services


Emergency Medical Services

Contact Information , Office Hours
Functions , Department Responsibilities ,
FAQ's, Common Terms, History, Interesting Facts
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Emergency Medical Service

The Emergency Medical Service Department (EMS) provides medical care and transportation to hospital emergency rooms for citizens and visitors to Charleston County. EMS also provides field emergency medical support services which require specialized training and equipment; support to hazardous materials response teams and hazardous materials clean-up operations throughout the county and assistance to area law enforcement agencies through the nationally recognized Special Weapons and Tactics Medic program.

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This Department Does

dot  Provide emergency lifesaving care to people who are seriously ill or injured
dot  Transport patients to local hospital emergency rooms
dot  Operate ambulances and Quick Response Vehicles to support these services
dot  Provide a variety of educational programs to the public on many safety issues

This Department Does Not

dot  Provide routine convalescent transportation, such as taking people home from the hospital or to clinics or private doctor's offices

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why would I receive a bill from EMS when I am a County taxpayer?
A: Taxes pay for the staffing, vehicles and stations required to provide Emergency Medical Services. User fees help offset the costs of specific equipment and supplies associated with each ambulance call. If you fail to pay your user fee, EMS may collect the fee from your state tax refund using a debt set off program.
Q. What is a Paramedic?
A. A paramedic is a person that usually works outside the hospital to provide initial medical treatment in the event of illness or injury. Paramedics work with many other professionals, such as firefighters, rescue, police, nurses, doctors and others, in order to provide treatment and stabilization to those in crisis. The paramedic is usually an extension of the doctor’s knowledge and skill. This means that the paramedic carries out examinations and treatments when a doctor is not available. There must be a high level of trust between the paramedic and the doctor.
Q: Why do I sometimes see ambulances parked at street corners, apparently doing nothing?
A: Ambulances in Charleston County are frequently relocated to strategic locations to provide better response times when other ambulances are busy. This helps to ensure that all areas of the County receive the best coverage possible.
Q: Does the County have a helicopter for emergency transport?
A: No. However, County emergency agencies have access to and use the helicopter services managed by the Medical University of South Carolina. Through a cooperative effort, the emergency service agencies in the County have designated scores of suitable helicopter landing sites ranging from large intersections to baseball fields.

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Common Terms

Quick Response Vehicle (QRV) --An emergency response medical unit that is equivalent to a standard EMS response unit with only two differences: one paramedic staffs the vehicle, not two; and the QRV has no patient transport capability. This unit is dispatched to scenes where no transport is expected.

Debt Set Off Program-- A program enabled through state legislation allowing public agencies to collect funds from delinquent clients from their state income tax refunds.

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In 1973, a group of concerned citizens, local physicians and members of Charleston County Government created EMS. Before then, emergency medical care was provided by two private ambulance services and some police "crash wagons." One of the first countywide emergency medical service systems in the state, Charleston County EMS provides access to advanced levels of emergency medical care regardless of the emergency's location or the patient's ability to pay.

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Interesting Facts

dot  Received national EMS System of the Year for 2010
dot  Charleston County EMS received the 2002 Large System of the Year award from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control Division of EMS.
dot  Charleston County EMS responded to over 39,450 calls for assistance that resulted in over 49,871 responses.
dot  Since 1991, Charleston County EMS received the following awards:
- National Association of Counties Achievement Award for instituting the Quick Response Vehicle
- US Coast Guard Citation of Merit for assistance with a significant hazardous materials incident on board a ship. This incident involved highly toxic and explosive materials and required technical assistance from around the country.
dot Emergency Medical Technicians have 200 hours of training before testing for state certification. Paramedics, who are able to perform more technical functions, have more than 1,100 hours of training.

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Contact Information


For all emergencies, call 9-1-1

For billing inquires please contact:
EMS Management and Consultants
(800) 814-5339

For Administration contact:
Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building
4045 Bridge View Drive
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 202-6700
(843) 202-6712 (Fax)

Office Hours

Administrative Offices
Monday- Friday
8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

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