Objective: This report aims to illustrate the history and current status of Japanese emergency medical services (EMS), including development of the specialty and characteristics adapted from the U.S. and European models. In addition, recommendations are made for improvement of the current systems.
Methods: Government reports and academic papers were reviewed, along with the collective experiences of the authors. Literature searches were performed in PubMed (English) and Ichushi (Japanese), using keywords such as emergency medicine and pre-hospital care. More recent and peer-reviewed articles were given priority in the selection process.
Results: The pre-hospital care system in Japan has developed as a mixture of U.S. and European systems. Other countries undergoing economic and industrial development similar to Japan may benefit from emulating the Japanese EMS model.
Discussion: Currently, the Japanese system is in transition, searching for the most suitable and efficient way of providing quality pre-hospital care.
Conclusion: Japan has the potential to enhance its current pre-hospital care system, but this will require greater collaboration between physicians and paramedics, increased paramedic scope of medical practice, and greater Japanese societal recognition and support of paramedics.