Alternatives to Traditional EMS Dispatch and Transport: A Scoping Review of Reported Outcomes

Jensen JL, Carter AJ, Rose J, Visintini S, Bourdon E, Brown R, McVey J, Travers AH



Emergency medical services (EMS) programs, which provide an alternative to traditional EMS dispatch or transport to the emergency department (ED), are becoming widely implemented. This scoping review identified and catalogued all outcomes used to measure such alternative EMS programs. Data Source Broad systematized bibliographic and grey literature searches were conducted. Study Selection Inclusion criteria were 911 callers/EMS patients, reported on alternatives to traditional EMS dispatch OR traditional EMS transport to the ED, and reported an outcome measure. Data Extraction The reports were categorized as either alternative to dispatch or to EMS transport, and outcome measures were categorized and described. Data Synthesis The bibliographic search retrieved 13,215 records, of which 34 articles met the inclusion criteria, with an additional 10 added from reference list hand-searching (n=44 included). In the grey literature search, 31 websites were identified, from which four met criteria and were retrieved (n=4 included). Fifteen reports (16 studies) described alternatives to EMS dispatch, and 33 reports described alternatives to EMS transport. The most common outcomes reported in the alternatives to EMS dispatch reports were service utilization and decision accuracy. Twenty-four different specific outcomes were reported. The most common outcomes reported in the alternatives to EMS transport reports were service utilization and safety, and 50 different specific outcomes were reported.


Numerous outcome measures were identified in reports of alternative EMS programs, which were catalogued and described. Researchers and program leaders should achieve consensus on uniform outcome measures, to allow benchmarking and improve comparison across programs.