Injury Prevention

The 1973 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Act in North Carolina established the Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) as the lead agency at the state level for EMS. It also established the framework for developing a comprehensive EMS system in North Carolina. At the same time, passage of the federal EMS Act of 1973 started a federal initiative to develop comprehensive EMS systems throughout the country.


The initial efforts in North Carolina, as well as most of the country, sought to establish a baseline EMS system that would provide emergency response to local communities through training, certification, equipment, communications, and medical oversight. These initial systems primarily addressed the adult patient, as 85-90% percent of all calls for pre-hospital EMS were adult oriented. Consequently, these systems often failed to meet the particular EMS needs of children.


In the late 1980s the federal EMS for Children (EMSC) program was developed within the Department of Health and Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Through the persistence of the EMSC program developers, about $12 million per year in grants have been awarded to forty seven states to encourage EMS systems to address the EMS needs of children.


North Carolina received its first EMSC grant in 1990. Dr. Arno Zaritsky, Dr. Robert Schafermeyer, and the Office of EMS proposed the initial grant project. That grant allowed more than 1,500 EMS personnel to complete a newly developed pediatric pre-hospital emergency care workshop. It also supported the development of a pediatric emergency course for emergency departments.


In 1994 Dr. George Johnson, Jr., Chairman of the North Carolina EMS Advisory Council, appointed Dr. Karen Frush to chair the North Carolina EMSC Task Force (recently renamed the EMSC Subcommittee). The goal of the EMSC Subcommittee is to provide a comprehensive, cooperative approach to addressing the needs of children.


The efforts of Dr. Frush and the EMSC Subcommittee have formed a collaborative approach towards the improvement of pediatric care and injury prevention. For example, financial support from the Duke Endowment allowed North Carolina EMSC to partner with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Lowe's Home Safety Council to develop an injury prevention curriculum called Risk Watch. Risk Watch is an experiential, action packed curriculum that was carefully designed to provide age appropriate information to children and families, empowering them to make good safety choices. Durham and Pitt counties served as test sites for this new curriculum in the fall of 1996. Risk Watch was released nationally through the NFPA, the National Safe Kids program and the federal EMSC program in 1998. Additionally, the North Carolina EMSC program developed and hosted a regional EMSC conference for eight southeastern states. The conference brought together EMS, EMSC, and Maternal and Child Health leaders from these southeastern states to promote awareness of the EMSC spectrum of care.


The North Carolina EMSC program continues to serve as an advocate for children, improving the emergency medical care rendered to them. Current EMSC projects include the development of a child abuse recognition training program, the formation of a database for children with special needs, the integration of pediatric care into disaster response plans, and the promotion of injury prevention programs.


The North Carolina EMSC project depends heavily on your EMS service to promote better health and emergency care for children. If you are interested in more information about the North Carolina EMS for Children project, contact Gloria Hale at the Office of EMS at 919.855.3953 or at


More injury prevention information can also be found at: