Cleveland EMS History



In the early 1970's, as the new concept of pre-hospital care was introduced in America, it became evident that improvements could be made to the existing police ambulance service  




 A federal grant enabled the City of Cleveland to purchase a dozen ambulances and train 120 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). These EMTs became part of a new public safety division known as Cleveland EMS.

October 13th, 1975 at 9:00am, Medic 9 out of University Hospital responded to the first emergency call for the new service.  Cleveland EMS went on to respond to over 80,000 emergency calls that year.

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Cleveland EMS Today


911 Response: The primary duty of Cleveland EMS (CEMS) is to respond to 911 calls for medical assistance within the City of Cleveland. CEMS paramedics are the lead prehospital providers for patients that experience asthma attacks, car accidents, alcohol and drug overdoses, gunshot wounds, heart attacks, strokes, seizures, sudden cardiac arrest, and a host of other medical emergencies. CEMS also dispatches an ambulance to every structure fire within the city and works with the Cleveland Police Department (CPD) to mitigate mental health emergencies. Today, Cleveland EMS responds to over 100,000 emergency calls each year.



Emergency Medical Dispatching: CEMS utilizes professional Emergency Medical Dispatchers, who undergo extensive training in the Medical Priority Dispatch System to answer 911 calls for medical assistance. They ask a series of questions to prioritize emergency calls and provide life-saving instructions over the phone on topics such as bleeding control, childbirth, and CPR.


Community Outreach: CEMS provides senior health screenings, educational visits with a child-friendly mini-ambulance, CPR training for city employees, and maintains a public-access AED program for all city buildings. Cleveland EMS is also the first EMS service in the nation to participate in a public-access Naloxone program. This program, a partnership with MetroHealth’s Project DAWN, allows CEMS paramedics to distribute take-home Naloxone kits to those at risk of an opioid overdose.


Special Event Medical Coverage: CEMS provides standby medical coverage for both public and private special events. This allows for an immediate medical response at crowded or high-risk events while reducing the stress on the regular 911 ambulances. These units are staffed using paramedics on overtime who utilize ATV ambulances. Private events are charged an hourly fee to cover to costs of the paramedics and equipment. To request a unit, contact EMS Headquarters at 216-664-6005.

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