This page has general information about what EMS (Emergency Medical Services) does. We also answer FAQs (frequently asked questions) and list prevention and safety resources.
For children, visit Emergency Medical Services for Children.
Expand a question to learn more. Questions are grouped by topic.
EMS is the lead state agency for emergency medical care in Wisconsin. Its purpose is to provide resources, leadership, and oversight to serve the EMS system and Wisconsin communities.
EMS includes services you get in an emergency before you go to the hospital for treatment (for example, paramedic and ambulance services).
EMS started in Wisconsin in 1968. Learn more about EMS History.
Yes. EMS follows the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) of 1996 Privacy Rule.
Learn more about HIPAA Privacy Rule—Frequently Asked Questions.
If you have a problem with EMS, you have the right to file a complaint. The EMS office receives and reviews all complaints about:
- EMS staff.
- EMS services.
- Certified EMS training centers.
EMS professionals follow specific triage protocols during emergencies.
Wisconsin keeps data on all ambulance runs through the Wisconsin Ambulance Run Data System Elite.
This is a secure, web-based system for reporting data. Ambulance service providers add their information to the online system.
EMS state rules and regulations
Statutes and administrative code from Wisconsin State Legislature define rules for EMS:
EMS follows state laws and rules. Wisconsin Stat. § 256.08, State EMS Activities requires EMS to prepare a state plan.
The plan defines priorities for what to change in the state’s EMS system within two years of writing the plan.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) issues regular EMS guidance. It updates providers and other interested groups on details related to EMS process and procedure.
Do not resuscitate (DNR) orders
DNR orders are defined in Wisconsin law—Wis. Stat. ch. 154.
A DNR order is something a doctor writes. It tells emergency health care workers not to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if your heart stops or you can’t breathe. If you don’t have a DNR order, the care team will try CPR.
In Wisconsin, a doctor can issue a DNR order for qualified patients. See Wis. Stat. § 154.17(4).
It’s most helpful to set up a DNR order before you have an emergency. DNR orders only focus on CPR. The purpose of the DNR order is to make sure that your wishes are honored, no matter what facility you go to in an emergency.
These are helpful DNR forms:
Prevention and safety resources
Select a link to learn more about topics that relate to EMS:
- Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Program—Learn how Wisconsin EMS works with this program and Public Health Emergency Preparedness to protect those who live in Wisconsin.
- Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention—Learn about Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. These standards focus on how to prevent accidental needle sticks and what to do when it happens.
- Disease Reporting—Find information about diseases and conditions that all health providers must report in Wisconsin.
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus—Learn about a type of staph infection. It’s spread by contact with an infected wound or items that have touched infected skin.
- Personal Protective Equipment—Learn about the types of equipment EMS staff use when working with contagious diseases or environmental hazards.
- TB Testing and Guidelines for EMS Personnel—Learn about TB (tuberculosis) testing and what EMS staff should know.