Todd D.’s Answer
John's answer is absolutely correct. Reports and documentation are vital in the emergency medical services (EMS), and exactly how they're completed will very slightly depending on who you work for, but the overall process is likely the same.
In the systems I'm currently working in, we differentiate between what we call a "run report" and a patient care report (PCR).
A run report contains no private information about the patient, because it is a matter of public record. It documents things like how you responded to the call, if there were any delays enroute, how long you were on scene, what hospital you transported the patient to, etc.
A PCR is much more detailed and is private medical information. In the PCR we document the patient's age, chief complaint, details about the onset, a description of the pain, notate allergies and medications, record vital signs, and document any interventions we make, like starting an IV and administering a drug to relieve nausea.
The length of each varies on the complexity of the call. I find mine are generally about one page long, and take me around 30 minutes to write. But again, that depends in large part on how many you do, how thorough you choose to be, and how user friendly your employer's system is!
I hope that helps answer your question. Let me know if you have any additional questions, or would like to see some redacted examples of reports!
The kind of information they key in ranges from patient demographics to a concise summary of the call, including any medical interventions or treatments provided. Once they reach the ER or any other destination, like when transporting between facilities, they'll take a few moments to document the call's events. Usually, the crew member who attended to the patient handles this documentation, while the one who drove focuses on tidying up and restocking the ambulance.
During particularly hectic shifts, when calls come in back-to-back without a breather in between, the documentation might have to wait until there's a moment to pause and catch up.
Now, there might still be some areas where old-school paper run sheets or reports are in use, but the overall process remains the same.
Documentation plays a vital role for several reasons, but the most critical one is that it provides a record of the care you provided to the patient. This record is then used for billing, quality assessment, and as a safeguard for you should there be any questions about your actions or if there were any perceived lapses in care.
If you're considering a career in EMS, I'd recommend checking out the links below for some useful information, and also reaching out to your state's EMS office. Best of luck to you!
John recommends the following next steps: