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Star of Life - The EMS Symbol

Just as physicians have the caduceus, emergency medical service personnel have the Star of Life. Use of the Star of Life by EMS personnel is encouraged both by the American Medical Association and the Advisory Council of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The Star of Life applies to all emergency medical products and services funded under the DOT/EMS program.

The Star of Life was designed by Leo R. Schwartz, Chief of the EMS Branch of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Star of Life was created after the American Red Cross complained about the common use of an Omaha orange cross on a square background of reflectorized white which they saw as an imitation of the Red Cross symbol. The NHTSA investigated and felt the complaint was justified.

Adopted from the Medical Identification Symbol of the American Medical Association, the newly designed six-barred cross was registered as a certification mark on February 1, 1977 with the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks in the name of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Each of the bars of the blue Star of Life represents the six system functions of emergency medical services, as illustrated below:


 

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