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Houston Fire Department

HFD Emergency Medical Services Frequently Asked Questions

Who uses EMS?
Annually, in Houston, one of every ten citizens utilizes EMS as each year more than 150,000 EMS incidents involving over 170,000 patients or potential patients. On the average, EMS responds to someone every three minutes.


EMS Personnel
All EMS personnel are also firefighters experienced in emergency rescue, extrications, and the suppression of fire and hazardous material conditions. All firefighters are specifically trained and annually retrained in basic medical first-responder activities. Since 1981, all new cadets have also been EMT-trained.


Houston EMS recognized worldwide
Houston's EMS is recognized worldwide as a leader in injury care. Scientific studies reveal that the innovative techniques and treatment strategies used by the Houston EMS personnel have provided Houstonians with an unrivaled survival rate for those with severe traumatic injuries. Today most of the clinical data regarding cardiac and trauma resuscitation come from the Houston EMS system. In the last decade, Houston EMS has presented more than 100 scientific papers at national and international meetings. Every paramedic and EMS physician in the city carries a portable 12-lead electrocardiograph. With this new technology, heart attack victims are more quickly diagnosed and treated faster. Houston is one of the first systems in the nation to have this technology available on its medic units. Houston has been cited by Fortune Magazine as one of the eight safest cities in the country to have a medical emergency.The City of Houston Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program is solely responsible by ordinance for all emergency medical calls received within the city limits. Access to EMS is facilitated by an enhanced 9-1-1 systems, which relays medical calls from a central answering point (911 operator relays the call to Police/Fire/Ambulance dispatcher as indicated.)


When should you call 911?
Dial 911 in the event of an emergency ONLY! When someone is badly hurt or suddenly sick and in danger, call EMS immediately. Call when someone's life is threatened, when someone faints or collapses, has persistent chest pain or difficulty breathing or is badly injured. Call if the victim needs the skills or equipment of emergency personnel. Call if moving the victims yourself could cause further injury. If unsure, DO CALL 911.


Don't Dial 911 for Non-Emergencies
Going to a doctor's appointment, getting a scraped knee bandaged or filling a prescription do not require professional EMS assistance. Calling EMS in non-emergencies DOES tie up the system and makes it harder for emergency personnel to do their job - responding to serious emergencies.


Know What to Say When Calling 911
Stay calm, speak clearly and stay on the phone until the emergency operator tells you to hang up. Tell the dispatcher where to find the person needing emergency care, who is hurt and sick and what happen. The dispatcher will also need to know what condition the victims is in and if any help can be given. Give the exact location of the emergency. Be prepared to answer the following questions: Is the patient awake? Is the patient breathing normally?


Know what to do until help arrives
If the dispatcher gives you specific instructions, follow them and don't panic. Don't move someone who is injured unless they are in danger. Do try to keep them as comfortable as possible. If someone else is there with you, send them to meet the Fire Department personnel.


Why do fire trucks respond to medical calls?
When the response time for one of the ambulances is to be delayed (or simply when a probable critical situation exists) neighborhood engine companies (or occasionally ladder trucks) are dispatched to the scene. The crews provide basic life support and create a well-orchestrated team effort called the medical incident command system. This is known as the First Responder System.


I received a bill for my ambulance transport, what should I do?
City Ordinance requires that we charge for all ambulance transports, however, if you have medical insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, please use the form you received on your billing to mail in your insurance information so that we may bill your insurance company. You will still be responsible for co-pays, deductibles, etc. If you do not have insurance, we accept checks, money orders, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover Card for payment of your bill. Mail all insurance documentation and payments to:or EMS Billing 611 Walker Street, 10th floor – Finance Dept, Attn: Bethany Ackeret, Houston, TX 77002.


Insurance Submittal Form (Revised)- Use this form to submit your insurance documentation so that we may bill your insurance company. We accept medical insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. Please complete each field and then mail this form to the above address or fax toll free to 888-FAX-EMS9. If possible, include a front and back copy of your insurance card. You may also call us and submit your information over the phone.

EMS Billing


Call 713.837.0311


or write to HFD EMS Finance, PO Box 3347, Houston, TX 77002

EMS Records

Email: HFD EMS/Fire Records >>>

600 Jefferson, Ste. 800
Houston, TX


Refer to HIPAA Information


EMS Administration




600 Jefferson, Ste. 800, Houston, TX 77002


EMS Concern or Complaint


Call the Office of the Inspector General at 832-394-5100