Volume 2017, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1999-7086
  • EISSN: 1999-7094


The purpose of this study was to provide an overview of the evolution of emergency medical services (EMS) in Saudi Arabia to describe its history, organisational service providers, governance, EMS statistics and the educational development of the field with the disparity of educational approaches. The EMS is an important part of the healthcare system as it is often the first point of contact for medical emergencies. The EMS in Saudi Arabia has seen a number of positive changes over the past decade, some of which include the development of several university and college programs dedicated to teaching EMS, the evaluation of the profession from a post-employment first aid model into a pre-employment bachelor's degree model, the generous governmental scholarship grants overseas and the official accreditation of EMS as a profession. It has been approximately nine years since the first EMS bachelor's degree programs were developed in Saudi Arabia, some of which were directly adopted from universities in developed countries such as Australia. Despite these positive changes, the current EMS system in Saudi is faced with many challenges, both organisational and educational, including the lack of research, community involvement, the educational status of practitioners and the inconsistencies of statistics relating to response time and rate of transfer. This paper describes the history of EMS in Saudi Arabia with a specific focus on identifying the disparity in the educational outcomes and approaches adopted by colleges and universities in the Kingdom. The data utilised for the research of the EMS profession in Saudi Arabia were obtained from the literature using search tools such as MEDLINE, Google Scholar, Saudi health journals, Saudi university websites, government reports and statistics. The EMS profession in Saudi Arabia has advanced greatly in the past 12 years. Yet there is still scope for considerable improvement, especially with regards to developing empirically identified core competencies for EMS bachelor's degree graduates. There is also the need for providing more outreach to the public to improve awareness of current services and available training, building more collaboration between the industry employers and academic institutions and investing further in EMS research through the development of Saudi-based postgraduate master's and PhD EMS degrees. This paper is the first to provide an overview of the EMS service in Saudi Arabia, for institutions and researchers to gain a better understanding of the history and current standing of the service from an educational and operational perspective.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. About Saudi Arabia. Available from: http://www.mofa.gov.sa/sites/mofaen/ServicesAndInformation/aboutKingDom/Pages/KingdomGeography46466.aspx (accessed 28 April 2016).
  2. General Authority for Statistics. Population by Age Groups, Gender and Nationality (Saudi/Non-Saudi) 2016. Available from: http://www.stats.gov.sa/sites/default/files/estm_pop_2016_3.pdf (accessed 15 January 2017).
  3. Global Health Observatory. Saudi Arabia: WHO statistical profile 2015. Available from: http://www.who.int/gho/countries/sau.pdf?ua = 1 (accessed 28 April 2016).
  4. Ministry of Health SA. Statistical Book 2014. Available from: http://www.moh.gov.sa/en/Ministry/Statistics/book/Documents/Statistics-Book-1434.pdf (accessed 21 May 2016).
  5. Saudi Red Crescent Authority. History of SRCA 2013. Available from: http://www.srca.org.sa/History.aspx (accessed 6 May 2016).
  6. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee. UNHCR Signs agreement with Saudi Red Crescent Society 2007. Available from: http://www.unhcr.org/46264e9e4.html (accessed 29 April 2016).
  7. Albader I. Red Crescent in Gulf countries: International Center for Researches & Studies MEDAD; 2010. Available from: http://www.medadcenter.com/investigations/284 (accessed 3 February 2017).
  8. Al-Yousuf M, Akerele T, Al-Mazrou Y. Organization of the Saudi health system. East Mediterr Health J. 2002; 8:4–5:645653.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Alanazi A. Curriculum design of emergency medical services program at the College of Applied Medical Sciences. Adv Med Educ Pract. 2012; 3::718.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Al-Shaqsi S. Models of international emergency medical service (EMS) systems. Oman Med J. 2010; 25:4:320323.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Salleeh H, Tom M, Ahmed Y, Leggio W, Abdulqader N. Out of hospital pediatric cardiac arrest: prospective study from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Biosci Biotechnol Res Asia. 2016; 13:1:569572.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. AlHabib K, Sulaiman K, Al Suwaidi J, Almahmeed W, Alsheikh-Ali AA, Amin H, Al Jarallah M, Alfaleh HF, Panduranga P, Hersi A, Kashour T, Al Aseri Z, Ullah A, Altaradi HB, Nur Asfina K, Welsh RC, Yusuf S. Patient and system-related delays of emergency medical services use in acute ST-elevation myocardial infarction: results from the third gulf registry of acute coronary events (Gulf RACE-3Ps). PLoS ONE. 2016; 11:1:e147385.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Alanazi A. Emergency medical services in Saudi Arabia: A study on the significance of paramedics and their experiences on barriers as inhibitors of their efficiency. Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2012; 2:1:3437.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Althubaity E, Yunus F, Al Khathaami A. Assessment of the experience of Saudi emergency medical services personnel with acute stroke. On-scene stroke identification, triaging, and dispatch of acute stroke patients. Neurosciences (Riyadh). 2013; 18:1:4045.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Alsalloum O, Rand G. Extensions to emergency vehicle location models. Comput Oper Res. 2006; 33:9:27252743.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Al-Naami M, Arafah M, Al-Ibrahim F. Trauma care systems in Saudi Arabia: an agenda for action. Ann Saudi Med. 2010; 30::50.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Al-Ghamdi A. Emergency medical service rescue times in Riyadh. Accid Anal Prev. 2002; 34:4:499505.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Hamam A, Bagis M, AlJohani K, Tashkandi A. Public awareness of the EMS system in Western Saudi Arabia: identifying the weakest link. Int J Emerg Med. 2015; 8:1:70.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Ambulance Victoria. Annual Report 2014–2015. Available from: https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/prod.assets.ambulance.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/av-annual-report-2014-2015.pdf (accessed 19 May 2016).
  20. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Demographic Statistics September quarter 2015. Available from: http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/286E947B6B8D7E2CCA257F7F001D9807/$File/31010_sep%202015.pdf (accessed 19 May 2016).
  21. General Authority for Statistics. The total population 2014. Available from: http://www.stats.gov.sa/ar/indicators/1 (accessed 28 April 2016).
  22. National Health Service England. Ambulance Services, England 2015. Available from: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB17722/ambu-serv-eng-2014-2015-rep.pdf (accessed 22 May 2016).
  23. Hamad Medical Corporation. Health Education Research Annual Report 2015. Available from: http://corp.hamad.qa/annualreport2015/pdf/EN_HMC_AR14.pdf (accessed 22 May 2016).
  24. Qatar Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics. Population and social statistics 2014. Available from: http://www.mdps.gov.qa/en/statistics/Statistical%20Releases/Population/Population/2014/Pop_Population_Chapter_AnAb_AE_2014.pdf (accessed 27 October 2016).
  25. Office of National Statistics. Compendium of UK Statistics population and migration; 2014. Available from: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/compendiums/compendium-of-uk-statistics/population-and-migration/index.html (accessed 27 October 2016).
  26. Saudi Society of Emergency Medicine. Bylaws of the SASEM 2016. Available from: http://sasem.org/about-sasem/bylaws/ (accessed 1 September 2016).
  27. Saudi Commission for Health Specialties. Regulations 2015. Available from: http://www.scfhs.org.sa/en/Pages/default.aspx (accessed 1 September 2016).
  28. Brooks I, Cooke M, Spencer C, Archer F. A review of key national reports to describe the development of paramedic education in England (1966–2014). Emerg Med J. 2015; 33:12:876881.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Whitmore D, Furber R. The Need for a Professional Body for UK Paramedics. Australas J Paramed. 2015; 4:1:13.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Paramedics Australasia. Who We Are 2014. Available from: https://www.paramedics.org/our-organisation/who-we-are/ (accessed 11 July 2016).
  31. The Council of Ambulance Authorities. Paramedic Professional Competency Standards. Available from: http://www.caa.net.au/images/documents/accreditation_resources/Paramedic_Professional_Competency_Standards_V2.2_February_2013_PEPAS.pdf (accessed 31 August 2016).
  32. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. National Emergency Medical Services Agenda for the Future 1996. Available from: http://www.ems.gov/pdf/2010/EMSAgendaWeb_7-06-10.pdf (accessed 19 August 2016).
  33. National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. About us 2017. Available from: http://www.naemt.org/about_us.aspx (accessed 24 January 2017).
  34. Alanazi A, Alrashidi Q, Aljerian N. Paramedics beliefs and attitudes towards pre-hospital thrombolysis. Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2014; 4:1:1115.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. O'Brien K, Moore A, Dawson D, Hartley P. An Australian story: Paramedic education and practice in transition. Australas J Paramed. 2014; 11:3.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. National EMS Education Standards 2009. Available from: http://www.ems.gov/pdf/811077a.pdf (accessed 19 August 2016).
  37. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. National EMS Scope of Practice Model 2007. Available from: https://www.nremt.org/nremt/downloads/Scope%20of%20Practice.pdf (accessed 19 August 2016).
  38. Aldajani M. About the emergency medicine institute 2016. Available from: http://www.emi.edu.sa/about.htm (accessed 5 May 2016).
  39. Aljohani A. Closure of Medical Institutes. Almedina Newspaper 2012 Available from: http://www.al-madina.com/article/145661/ (accessed 1 May 2016).
  40. King Saud University. Dean's Message Vision, Mission and Values: Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz College of Emergency Medical Services King Saud University; 2016. Available from: https://pscems.ksu.edu.sa/en/dean_message (accessed 24 May 2016).
  41. Hou X, Rego J, Service M. Review article: Paramedic education opportunities and challenges in Australia. Emerg Med Australas. 2013; 25:2:114119.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Council of Ambulance Authorities. CAA Accredited Courses 2016. Available from: http://www.caa.net.au/paramedic-education/accredited-courses (accessed 25 August 2016).
  43. Ministry of Education. Education in the Kingdom: Ministry of Education; 2016. Available from: https://www.mohe.gov.sa/ar/studyinside/Private-higher-Education/Pages/Higher-education-colleges-eligibility.aspx (accessed 28 August 2016).
  44. University of Dammam. Overview: Emergency Medical Care Department; 2016. Available from: http://www.uod.edu.sa/en/colleges/college-of-applied-medical-sciences/departments/emergency-medical-care-department (accessed 15 April 2016).
  45. Umm Al-Qura University. ER Services Program. College of Applied Medical Sciences; 2016. Available from: https://uqu.edu.sa/en/dct/653 (accessed 15 April 2016).
  46. Prince Sultan Military College. Program Objectives: Emergency Medical Technology; 2016. Available from: http://www.psmchs.edu.sa/en/academic-affairs/academics/emergency-medical-en (accessed 15 April 2016).
  47. King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences. About Emergency Medical Services Program: College of Applied Medical Sciences; 2016. Available from: http://cams.ksau-hs.edu.sa/index.php/en/academics/emergency-medical-services/24-about-emergency-medical-services-program-emms (accessed 15 April 2016).
  48. Jazan University. Objectives for the EMS program 2016. Available from: http://colleges.jazanu.edu.sa/sites/en/nahs/Pages/emwrgencydepartment.aspx (accessed 16 April 2016).
  49. Inaya College. Our Vision for EMS: Inaya Medical College; 2016. Available from: http://inaya.edu.sa/our_vision.php?lang = en (accessed 19 July 2016).
  50. AlMaarefa Colleges. Quality of Teaching: Accreditation and Recognition; 2016. Available from: http://www.mcst.edu.sa/en/accreditation-recognition (accessed 16 April 2016).
  51. AlGhad Colleges. Goals Department of Emergency Medicine 2016. Available from: http://www.alghadcolleges.edu.sa/index.php/en/2014-03-08-13-09-31 (accessed 16 April 2016).
  52. King Khaled University. Department of Emergency Medical Services 2017. Available from: http://amskh.kku.edu.sa/ar/content/173 (accessed 24 January 2017).
  53. The Council of Ambulance Authorities. Paramedic Professional Competency Standards 2010. Available from: http://caa.net.au/∼caanet/images/documents/accreditation_resources/Paramedic_Professional_Competency_Standards_V2.2_February_2013_PEPAS.pdf (accessed 22 May 2016).
  54. Kilner T. Desirable attributes of the ambulance technician, paramedic, and clinical supervisor: Findings from a Delphi study. Emerg Med J. 2004; 21:3:374378.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Tavares W, Boet S. On the Assessment of Paramedic Competence: A Narrative Review with Practice Implications. Prehospital Disaster Med. 2015; 31:1:6473.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
Keyword(s): Emergency medical servicesEMS core competenciesparamedics and Saudi Arabia
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error