Frequently Asked Questions


About CAAS in General

The Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services was established to encourage and promote quality patient care in America’s medical transportation system. Based initially on the efforts of the American Ambulance Association, the independent Commission established a comprehensive series of standards for the ambulance service industry.

Accreditation signifies that your service has met the “gold standard” determined by the ambulance industry to be essential in a modern emergency medical services provider. These standards often exceed those established by state or local regulation. The CAAS standards are designed to help increase operational efficiency and decrease risk and liability across the entire spectrum of the organization.

The process includes a comprehensive self-assessment and an independent external review of the EMS organization. This independent process provides verification to your Board of Directors, city council, medical community and others that quality care is provided to the community.

All ambulance systems are eligible for the three-year accreditation including private, public, fire department and hospital-based.

In March 1982, the American Ambulance Association (AAA) sponsored a Needs Assessment Workshop in Kansas City, Missouri, to analyze the status of the EMS industry. The participants compiled a list of the twenty most pressing issues facing emergency medical services, the first of which was the need for high quality industry standards. In May 1984, the AAA Board of Directors authorized the formation of its Ad Hoc Committee on Accreditation and Standards. The standards that grew out of this committee’s work were consensus-based–with input from professionals across the EMS industry. The development of the process by which an agency could become certified to these standards followed.

In 1990, an independent Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) was incorporated, bringing together a board of representatives from the American Ambulance Association, the Emergency Nurses Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, the National Association of EMS Physicians, and the National Association of State EMS Directors. In 1993, the first agencies were accredited by the Commission.

Currently, there are more than 170 CAAS-accredited agencies in 39 U.S. states, Canada and the West Indies, with more than 200 agencies working on new applications. See the CAAS Accredited Agencies Map.

CAAS accreditation is designed to help EMS agencies increase organizational performance and efficiency, increase clinical quality, and decrease risk and liability. Accreditation provides a template for making comprehensive organization changes that improve the overall performance of the organization. An independent review validates that accredited agencies are adhering to the highest standards in the industry.

ACCREDITATION IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR:

Patients (and your community)
Accreditation assures your patients that the service has met the Commission’s high standard for quality patient care and that the service stands ready to care for their families if needed.

Local Officials
Accreditation assures local officials that your service has undergone careful scrutiny by an independent review process. In future years, many local officials are expected to require ambulance accreditation.

Medical Community
Your medical community can be confident that your service is providing quality patient care in accordance with nationally-accepted standards. Ambulance accreditation is also important because of the important role you play in the health care team.

Ambulance Service
Your ambulance service will receive the recognition it deserves for its outstanding achievements. Your staff will be proud to be affiliated with a service which has met the Commission’s high standards. Accreditation may also provide you with a competitive advantage particularly when marketing your service.

Thanks for asking. There are over 170 agencies in North America that are currently accredited. To see which agencies are accredited, visit our new Google-powered CAAS Agency Map.

EMS began in the United States in the 1970s with federal agencies pressuring the states to establish standards for ambulance services. The term EMS was formalized with the “EMS Systems Act of 1973.” Typically, states were able to set only minimum standards which might be described as the poorest you’re willing to accept. In 1982, at an American Ambulance Association workshop, the need for high-quality standards was identified. A working committee was established, and over the next eight years, standards were developed through consensus of EMS experts from all over the country. In other words, the best EMS thinkers and practitioners, working together, determined those standards that should be met by a quality service. In 1990, an independent Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) was established to begin the process of accrediting ambulance services using these quality standards. CAAS is sponsored by the American Ambulance Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the National Association of EMS Physicians, the National Association of State EMS Directors, the National Association of EMTs, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, with liaison representation from The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.