Main emergency service functions
There are three main emergency service functions:
- Police — providing community safety and acting to reduce crime against persons and property
- Fire department (fire and rescue service) — providing firefighters to deal with fire and rescue operations, and may also deal with some secondary emergency service duties
- Emergency medical service — providing ambulances and staff to deal with medical emergencies
In some countries such as the UK, these three functions are performed by three separate organisations in a given area. However there are also many countries where fire, rescue and ambulance functions are all performed by a single organisation.
Emergency services have one or more dedicated emergency telephone numbers reserved for critical emergency calls. In some countries, one number is used for all the emergency services (e.g. 911 in the US, 999 in the UK). In some countries, each emergency service has its own emergency number.
Other emergency services
These services can be provided by one of the core services or by a separate government or private body.
- Military — to provide specialist services, such as bomb disposal or to supplement emergency services at times of major disaster, civil dispute or high demand.
- Coastguard — Provide coastal patrols with a security function at sea, as well as involvement in search and rescue operations
- Lifeboat — Dedicated providers of rescue lifeboat services, usually at sea (such as by the RNLI in the United Kingdom).
- Mountain rescue — to provide search and rescue in mountainous areas, and sometimes in other wilderness environments.
- Cave rescue — to rescue people injured, trapped, or lost during caving explorations.
- Mine rescue — specially trained and equipped to rescue miners trapped by fires, explosions, cave-ins, toxic gas, flooding, etc.
- Technical rescue — other types of technical or heavy rescue, but usually specific to a discipline (such as swift water).
- Search and rescue — can be discipline-specific, such as urban, wildland, maritime, etc.
- Wildland fire suppression — to suppress, detect and control fires in forests and other wildland areas.
- Bomb disposal — to render safe hazardous explosive ordnance, such as terrorist devices or unexploded wartime bombs.
- Blood/organ transplant supply — to provide organs or blood on an emergency basis, such as the National Blood Service of the United Kingdom.
- Emergency management — to provide and coordinate resources during large-scale emergencies.
- Amateur radio emergency communications — to provide communications support to other emergency services, such as RAYNET in the UK
- Hazmat — removal of hazardous materials
- Air search providing aerial spotting for the emergency services, such as conducted by the Civil Air Patrol in the US, or Sky Watch in the UK.