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.


For more about Cleveland EMS history, consider viewing the Cleveland EMS wikipedia page.


Do you have photos or documents relating to the history of Cleveland EMS or CARE 1975? We would love to hear from you. E-mail


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. This is accomplished via 21-25 Paramedic-staffed Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances. 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, the approximatly 300 paramedics and EMTs of Cleveland EMS respond to over 100,000 emergency calls each year.


Cleveland Fire "First Responder": All Cleveland firefighters are also trained to at least the EMT-Basic level . On high-priority calls, such as calls where a patient is unconsious, a fire apparatus will be dual-dispatched with a CEMS paramedic ambulance to assist in patient care. 35-40% of EMS calls in Cleveland qualify for such a dual response. The majority of the time, once CEMS arrives and assumes care, the fire unit will go back into service.


When faced with a critical patient, the firefighters will drive the ambulance to the hospital, while both EMS personnel provide patient care. This occurs in approximately 1,000 cases annually and represents 1% of the overall call volume.


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. The CEMS dispatch center is known as Radio Emergency Dispatch (RED) center.


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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