What is FICEMS?

The Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) was established by Congress in 2005 to ensure coordination among Federal agencies supporting local, regional, state, tribal and territorial EMS and 911 systems. FICEMS was also created to improve the delivery of emergency medical services (EMS) throughout the nation.

The FICEMS accomplishes its mission by coordinating projects across the Federal government, predominantly for prehospital issues. FICEMS responsibilities include the following:

  • Identifying EMS and 9-1-1 needs
  • Recommending new or expanded EMS and communication technologies
  • Identifying ways to streamline the process through which Federal agencies support
  • EMS assisting local, regional, State, tribal, and territorial EMS in setting priorities

Advising, consulting, and making recommendations on matters related to implementation of coordinated State EMS programs

When should you seek emergency medical care?

The simple answer is, as quickly as possible whenever you are experiencing any symptoms of a medical emergency. Examples might include chest pain, shortness of breath, abdominal pain stroke symptoms, high fever, or dehydration.

Whether you have an emergency is determined based on the symptoms that bring you to the ER in the first place, not on your final diagnosis. The same symptoms can mean many medical conclusions and require an experienced physician (many times requiring specific testing) to determine if those symptoms represent a life-threatening issue or not. For example, one patient may present to the emergency department with severe abdominal pain and have appendicitis, but another with the same symptoms may have a stomach virus.

While urgent care centers have a role to play in the health care system, they are not substitutes for emergency care. Urgent care centers are very good at treating minor problems, but more serious problems require screening and treatment at an emergency department. Urgent care centers typically do not staff emergency medicine specialists, are not open 24 hours/day, do not have all modalities of imaging (such as ultrasound or CT), and do not have direct access to specialists.

What is Emergency Medicine?

Emergency medicine is the medical specialty dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of unforeseen illness or injury. It encompasses a unique body of knowledge as set forth in the “Model of the Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine.” The practice of emergency medicine includes the initial evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, coordination of care among multiple providers, and disposition of any patient requiring expeditious medical, surgical, or psychiatric care.

Emergency medicine is not defined by location but may be practiced in a variety of settings including hospital-based and freestanding emergency departments (EDs), urgent care clinics, observation medicine units, emergency medical response vehicles, disaster sites or via telemedicine.

Emergency medicine encompasses planning, oversight and medical direction for community emergency medical response, medical control and disaster preparedness. Emergency medicine professionals provide valuable clinical, administrative and leadership services to the emergency department and other sectors of the health care delivery system.

Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Pediatric emergency medicine is the specialty focused on care of acutely and critically ill or injured patients typically 17-years-old and younger in an emergency department setting.

Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act

The Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985, more commonly referred to as COBRA, gives workers and their families who lose health benefit coverage the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for a limited period of time under certain circumstances. Those circumstances include involuntary job loss, reduction in the number of hours worked, transitions between jobs, death, divorce and other life events.

Individuals who qualify for COBRA may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the plan cost. Generally, COBRA requires group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 employees or more in the year prior to offer the opportunity for temporary extended health coverage in circumstances where plan coverage would normally end. The act outlines how employees and their family members can elect continual coverage and also requires employers and plans to provide notice.

Critical Care

Critical Care is the specialized care of patients whose conditions are life-threatening and who require comprehensive care and constant monitoring, usually in intensive care units (ICU) or critical care units (CCU).

Advance Directive

Advance directives are legal documents outlining decisions regarding an individual’s critical or end-of-life care in the event he or she becomes permanently paralyzed or unconscious and non-responsive.


Aphasia is a communication disorder that impedes a person’s ability to speak and understand others. It is most commonly caused by brain injury (especially after a stroke), but it may also be caused by head trauma, brain tumors, or infections.

The severity of aphasia ranges from a mild inability to speak, read, or write to nearly no ability to communicate with others. How it affects those afflicted with the disorder is determined by which part of the brain is damaged and what caused the damage.

Health Care Agent

In the event an individual cannot make a health care decision for himself or herself, a health care agent can legally make these important decisions on his or her behalf. The individual can appoint nearly any adult to be his or her health care agent, with the exception of his or her physician or anyone else connected with the treatment facility.

A health care agent cannot make decisions outside the individual’s health care preferences specified in a living will, but a health care agent can make other important medical decisions on the individual’s behalf. Health care agents not only make end-of-life decisions, but he or she may also consult with physicians to decide which treatment options are best for the individual if he or she is in critical condition resulting from an accident or traumatic event.

What is internal medicine?

Internal medicine or general medicine is the medical specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases. Physicians specializing in internal medicine are sometimes referred to as internists. An internist is a personal physician who provides long-term, comprehensive care in the office and in the hospital, managing both common and complex illnesses of adolescents, adults and the elderly.

Internists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, infections and diseases affecting the heart, blood, kidneys, joints and the digestive, respiratory and vascular systems. An internist is also trained in the essentials of primary care internal medicine, which incorporates an understanding of disease prevention, wellness, substance abuse, mental health and effective treatment of common problems of the eyes, ears, skin, nervous system and reproductive organs.