Term of Award

Winter 2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health in Community Health Behavior and Education (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

Committee Chair

Stuart Tedders

Committee Member 1

Dr. Hani Samawi

Committee Member 2

Dr. Andrew Hansen


Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provides pre-hospital care and transportation for patients in need of immediate medical attention for illness or injury and is an integral part of the health care system. EMS is a critical component of the first response services and the overall outcome of patient safety and care. Currently, Georgia has 160, 911 EMS service providers throughout the state. In the event of an emergency or disaster where one county alone cannot provide adequate resources to meet the demand, mutual aid agreements may exist that allow for neighboring counties to provide additional support. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to look at and define the different EMS configurations used in the State of Georgia and the roles that they currently have in public health emergency preparedness. One of the study goals was to identify if a regionalized approach to EMS would be more efficient than a county level approach. Methods: A mixed method, sequential exploratory approach, was used for collecting and analyzing the data. EMS directors in four EMS regions were asked to complete a 20-item survey. Follow up interviews were conducted on a sample of the respondents to further understand the results of the survey. Results: Survey results showed moderate to strong agreement for regionalization, however, the interview process identified multiple barriers in moving this process forward. An area of the study that stimulated great discussion points was using EMS data for surveillance. This concept became one of the focal points of the qualitative research. Discussion: This research provided valuable insight into how EMS can support public health promotion and insights into how surveillance of EMS activities can be a critical part of future health promotion initiatives. In addition, the research identified several barriers to the regionalization of EMS in Georgia. Future research opportunities were identified during this research. Conversations have started on a pilot study using EMS data for surveillance purposes and a recommendation on how to move forward on regionalization has been proposed.