UMass Memorial EMS is proud to be part of the extraordinary history of emergency medical services in Massachusetts. In fact, our ground ambulance service and our flight program were among the first of their kind in the region. The first organized 9-1-1 ambulance service in Worcester, MA was at first operated by the Worcester Police Department in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. In 1977, the Worcester City Hospital initiated the first “Worcester EMS”, providing only one or two
basic life support (BLS) ambulances per shift to cover the City. By the mid-1980’s, the staff had transitioned to all-intermediate or paramedic, and the service has remained advanced life support (ALS) capable to this day. In 1991, after years of poor financial performance, Worcester City Hospital closed and the EMS function was assumed by the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, a state-run hospital affiliated with the burgeoning University of Massachusetts Medical School.
In 1999, following the merger of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center with Memorial Medical Center, creating “UMass Memorial”, the EMS function moved again to where it exists today, owned and operated by UMass Memorial Medical Center, one of largest non-profit health care organizations in New England. Through the years, in recognition of the increase in emergency calls from the community, the number of resources increased to where it stands today, with four (4) ALS units in-service in the City of Worcester 24-hours a day. In 2001, UMass Memorial EMS assumed responsibility for 9-1-1 ambulance service in the neighboring Town of Shrewsbury, MA, where one unit is in-service 24-hours a day.
LifeFlight was New England's first hospital-based air ambulance. Since its founding in 1982, LifeFlight has transported more than 27,000 patients in a geographic area that extends from Southern Connecticut to New Hampshire and from Boston, Massachusetts to Albany, New York. The LifeFlight program began at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center on September 15th 1982. It was only the 42nd hospital-based helicopter in the country. The LifeFlight crew consisted of a pilot, a flight nurse, and an emergency medicine physician. LifeFlight was an integral part of the education of physicians in Central Massachusetts for many years, with emergency medicine residents acquiring a significant portion of their EMS training while serving as Flight Physicians. Attending staff and EMS fellows also participated as Flight Physicians providing education and program direction. As of 2012, we are in the process of transitioning our EM resident staffing to Critical Care Paramedic staffing in response to changes in the regulations around residency programs. Indeed, this newest evolution brings UMass Memorial LifeFlight into the future by deploying a standardized model that functions well across alsmot all of the United States. The EMS Communications Center was initially established to manage only the air medical communications work required by the nascent flight program in 1982. It has since evolved to be one of the most technologically advanced centers of its kind in the region. The center now dispatches all 9-1-1 ambulances in Worcester and Shrewsbury, manages air medical communications for LifeFlight and other air medical programs, and provides a host of other services to the community and to the medical center that require advanced infrastructure and radio and voice recording capabilities.