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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
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Maternal and Child Health

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Emergency Medical Services for Children

The mission of the EMS for Children program is to reduce child and youth mortality and morbidity caused by severe illness or trauma. EMS for Children aims to ensure that

  • state of the art emergency medical care is available for the ill and injured child or adolescent; 
  • pediatric service is well integrated into an emergency medical service system backed by optimal resources; and
  • the entire spectrum of emergency services, including primary prevention of illness and injury, acute care, and rehabilitation, is provided to children and adolescents as well as adults, no matter where they live, attend school or travel. 

The program funds and supports pediatric emergency care improvement initiatives and projects in every U.S. State, Territory and the Freely Associated States (republics of Palau and Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia).

EMS for Children also supports:

Grant Programs

State Partnership Grants

State Partnership Grants (SP): In response to the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Report “Growing Pains,” and in partnership with EMS-professionals from across the country, the federal EMSC Program implemented baseline performance measures to address the gaps in healthcare identified in the IOM Report. Based on ongoing assessments conducted by the EMSC State Partnership grantees, the EMSC Program has been able to complete the only national assessment of pediatric pre-hospital emergency care in the nation. EMSC performance measure data has been collected from thousands of EMS agencies and hospital’s to assess:

  • Access to medical direction for EMS providers treating and transporting pediatric patients
  • Appropriate pediatric equipment and supplies on ambulances to treat children; and
  • Availability of inter-facility transfer agreements and guidelines (processes) designed to expedite the transfer of pediatric patients to the most appropriate facility.

Additionally, Program Partners in the states and territories focus efforts to ensure that:

  • Prehospital providers receive education and training that is necessary to maintain competenciesat pediatric patients;
  • EMS Providers are trained to transport and transfer children to the most appropriate medical facility that has been officially recognized to be equipped and prepared to treat and stabilize pediatric patients during medical emergencies and traumatic incidents;
  • Mandates are in place to assure pediatric medical direction is available 24/7; EMS providers receive pediatric education continuously; ambulances are equipped with pediatric equipment and supplies; hospitals with emergency departments are ready to treat and stabilize pediatric patients are they have agreements and guidelines to expedite the safe and efficient transport and transfer of children to the right care.

Targeted Issue Grants

Targeted Issue (TI) Grants are awarded to eligible applicants to help address issues of national significance that extend beyond State boundaries. Typically, these grants result in new products or resources, or show the feasibility of new methods, policies, or practices.

Examples of products and resources developed:

  • A national educational curriculum teaching EMT’s and paramedics how to treat pediatric emergencies. The Program called Pediatric Education for Prehospital Providers (PEPP) was originally developed with a TI grant and is now regularly updated and promoted through the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Performance measures defining quality metrics for treating children in the emergency department.
  • A pain management curriculum in the prehospital setting.
  • Training curriculum teaching emergency care providers how to care for children with special health care needs.
  • Training curriculum for school nurses to prepare for emergencies.
  • Facial recognition software that can be used by hospitals to reunify parents and children during a disaster.

Studies conducted by TI grantees have resulted in new knowledge regarding:

  • How to manage respiratory arrest in children in the prehospital setting.
  • How to manage cervical spine injuries in children in the prehospital setting.
  • Genetic markers for fever in children.
  • Injury prevention strategies in children.

Current  studies include:

  • Increasing the comfort, knowledge, skills and competency of prehospital providers;
  • Evaluating whether the prehospital administration of oral steroids by paramedics to pediatric patients with moderate to severe asthma reduces the time spent in the ED and the need for hospitalization;
  • Developing a systems approach to dealing with the loss of life for both prehospital providers and families;
  • Using a novel pediatric community paramedicine program to address gaps in managing pediatric asthma care;
  • Developing pediatric evidence-based guidelines; and
  • Developing an EMS Research Node to work in cooperation with the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network,

Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network

Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) demonstrates the value of an infrastructure or network designed to be the platform from which to conduct investigations on the efficacy of treatments, transport, and care responses in emergency care settings including those preceding the arrival of children to hospital emergency departments. PECARN provides the leadership and infrastructure needed to promote multi-centered studies, support research collaboration among EMSC investigators and to encourage informational exchanges between EMSC investigators and providers. PECARN conducts meaningful and rigorous multi-institutional research into the prevention and management of acute illnesses and injuries in children across the continuum of emergency medicine health care. PECARN works with diverse demographic populations and across varied geographical regions to promote the health of children in all phases of care. The PECARN network consists of multiple Emergency Departments across the nation which represent academic, community, urban, rural, general, and children’s hospitals. The entire network serves approximately 1 million acutely ill and injured children every year. The PECARN network has published numerous peer reviewed articles that focus is on improving pediatric emergency care nationwide.

Learn more:  Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network  and PECARN Data Management Coordinating Center  

State Partnership State Partnership Regionalization of Care

State Partnership State Partnership Regionalization of Care (SPROC) grants establish agreements and ultimately implement a regionalized healthcare delivery system to get the right resources to the right patient at the right time.

Pediatric emergency care requires specialized training, equipment and medications, but in many areas, specialized medical resources are scarce or non-existent. Limited personnel and system resources, coupled with a community’s isolation and geography hampers a family's ability to access pediatric specialty care 24/7 whenever needed. 

Regionalization includes building healthcare networks within and beyond a States’ borders to optimize limited resources and the development of a model regionalized healthcare system that could be replicated in other areas across the country.

In some cases, this may involve moving resources, personnel or simply knowledge. Components of these models could provide approaches to community engagement, disaster preparedness, and cross-jurisdictional governance, as well as  improved pediatric capacity and mechanisms for sustainability. 

Future Goals

Future EMSC programs goals are:

  • To develop effective and sustainable training methods to improve pediatric knowledge among EMS providers
  • To assure that program grantees address improvements in pediatric care provided by emergency medical services (EMS) providers in the pre-hospital setting
  • To identify evidence-based triage protocols and hospital designation choice of acutely ill or injured children
  • To evaluate the health outcomes of pre-hospital pediatric care
  • To develop modules of regionalization and telemedicine that allow for timely transfers or care delivery to critically ill or injured children in rural settings where specialty care is not readily available


The EMS for Children program has partnerships with multiple federal agencies:

  • The Office of EMS located within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • the Indian Health Services (IHS)
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The EMS for Children program is also involved with several Federal collaboratives, including the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS, National Emergency Medical Services Advisory Committee and the Interagency Committee on EMSC Research, whose focus is on improving the quality and quantity of EMSC research. 

The program partners with diverse national organizations that improve emergency medical care of children through the exchange of knowledge and collaboration. These partnerships include but are not limited to: Academic Pediatric Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians, American college of Surgeons, American Heart Association, American Pediatric Surgical Association, American Public Health Association, Emergency Nurses Association, Family Voices, National Association of EMS Physicians, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, National Association of EMS Educators, National Association of School Nurses, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of State EMS Officials, National PTA, National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, SAFE KIDS Worldwide, the American Trauma Society and the Society of Trauma Nurses.