EMS Chart Narrative

Seeking a simpler, more effective way to write an EMS narrative? Optimize your practice management using our EMS Chart Narrative Template!

By Priya Singh on Jul 15, 2024.


Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is an EMS Chart Narrative Template?

An Emergency Medical Services (EMS) narrative is a form of clinical documentation completed following dispatch and before hospital care. As an essential medical document, an accurate EMS narrative is vital for safe and efficient transitions of patient care (Alatis et al., 2020). To enhance the accuracy of the narrative, we have constructed an EMS Chart Narrative Template to support EMS officers in their documentation and ultimately enhance patient care. 

In many nations, such as the United States, clinical documentation of the patient’s initial condition, dispatch details, and care administered by first responders and EMS officers, patient statuses, and treatment responses are required in practice (Short & Goldstein, 2022). However, these can often be time-consuming and lack the detail necessary for efficient patient care (Alatis et al., 2020). 

The template operates as a structure to record patient data that may inform practitioner decision-making, diagnosis, and treatments once the patient has transitioned to hospital care. This typically includes the following: 

  • Patient Information (name, date of birth, age, gender)
  • Chief complaint 
  • Dispatch details (date, time, location, officers involved)
  • An initial incident report
  • Dispatch procedures (medical procedures, initial assessment)
  • Vital signs (blood pressure, level of consciousness)
  • Physical examination (injury, substance use)

Depending on the EMS protocols and preferences, the template can be accessed and completed either electronically or by hand using a physical copy. 

By completing an EMS narrative, EMS officers can effectively provide patient care details to be passed onto subsequent health professionals whilst keeping documentation essential for medical billing, legal requirements, registries, research purposes, and patient care improvement procedures (Short & Goldstein, 2022).

How does it work?

The EMS Chart Narrative Template provides EMS officers a structure to complete their narrative. To show you how this works, we have broken down the process into the following steps:

Step 1: Obtain the template

Access the electronic copy of the template here, or download a printable PDF using the link below for a physical reference

Step 2: Patient information

If the patient can respond, complete the patient’s personal information details, including their name, age, and emergency contact. This helps inform accurate patient records.

Step 3: Document dispatch details

Summarize the incident details that triggered dispatch, including location, dispatch number, time, and initial observations. This is essential for legal requirements and may contextualize the patient’s condition and inform treatment.

Step 5: Arrival details

Describe the conditions, initial assessment, and procedures conducted before and upon arrival. These can help professionals understand the severity of the incident and procedural treatment.

Step 6: Record health status

If the patient is able to respond, note the patient’s health status regarding previous history, medications, allergies, and the chief complaint.

Step 7: Record vital signs

Document the patient’s vital signs, including the level of consciousness, speech, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, skin conditions, and any further details regarding their status.

Step 8: Document the treatment

Record any treatments or procedures administered by EMS operators, including medications or immobilization techniques.

Step 9: Document changes

Note any changes to the patient’s health status in response to treatments, including any improvements or changes in symptoms.

Step 10: Transport details

Document the type of transportation used for transitioning the patient to the medical facility, along with the EMS personnel present.

Step 11: Transition

Pass on the EMS narrative to receiving health care providers.

When would you use this template?

The EMS Chart Narrative Template can be used to structure an EMS narrative for a patient for any type of incident requiring an EMS call. Some situations in which this template may used include the following:

EMS Dispatch use

The template can be applied in on-site EMS call-outs. It helps track essential information regarding pre-arrival and post-arrival procedures in a logical, organized order that is optimal for handoff. 

Patient status during transportation

The EMS Chart Narrative Template is an effective resource for documenting patient care and changes in health status during transportation. This helps monitor essential details, such as vital signs, treatments, and conditions that are vital to informing oncoming health professionals. 

EMS assessment

The EMS Chart Narrative Template may guide compliance of EMS personnel in regard to response time standards and procedural requirements. There are usually minimum EMS personnel requirements in many states and nations, and compliance can be assessed using the EMS narrative produced (Wolfberg & Wirth, 2005). 

Clinical documentation 

The template provides an organized structure for accurate and thorough patient records. Ensuring accurate patient medical records is essential and can often govern patient treatments in health centers such as emergency departments or trauma centers (Wolfberg & Wirth, 2005). 

Health center emergencies

The EMS Chart Narrative Template may also be useful in health centers, such as clinics and hospitals, during an emergency. It provides a structure that guides accurate recording of patient details, interventions, treatment responses, and changes in health status.

Benefits of the EMS Chart Narrative Template 

In using our free EMS Chart Narrative Template, health practitioners such as EMS personnel can optimize their approaches to clinical documentation, ensuring accurate patient records and efficient patient care. Here are some benefits of the template: 


Given that the EMS Chart Narrative Template is easily accessible online, depending on their preferences, EMS personnel can obtain the template electronically or download the PDF version to have a physical copy. 

Efficient clinical documentation

A detailed EMS narrative is essential in health care, as it provides information for patient transitions to health centers and covers the protocols taken by EMS personnel while the patient is under their care. This information is critical for patient records and may guide future decision-making around treatment. 

Records for financial reimbursement

Using our template, EMS has thorough documentation to clarify details and enhance communication regarding billing and reimbursement. 

Legal documentation

Using the EMS Chart Narrative Template, EMS officers and surrounding medical professionals have an accurate patient record from the incident until the dispatch transition. Having a thorough account of this information is essential for legal matters surrounding patient matters, as this can be used as evidence to support or deny claims regarding patient care.

Research & evidence

When transitioning patients from EMS to health centers, such as emergency departments, the information handoff is essential for informing the patient’s health status and appropriate care procedures. 

This is often observed in medical facilities as a verbal handoff, where EMS personnel attempt to explain the incident and relevant information. However, verbal explanations have shown to often be inaccurate or incomplete in multitasking and patient care (Alatis et al., 2020). 

EMS is critical to patient care, as it provides all essential messaging regarding the patient’s health status and guides the next steps for patient care. Research has demonstrated associations between poor EMS physiology documentation, poorer patient outcomes, and heightened risks of mortality (Laudermilch et al., 2010). 

Although there have been many guidelines and protocols to enhance prehospital emergency conditions, adherence issues remain. As reported by Chen and colleagues (2016), adherence to guidelines may be enhanced by implementing additional quality assurance tools in EMS care (Chen et al., 2016). 

To ensure the quality of EMS narratives, our EMS Chart Narrative Template can enhance patient care and documentation. By providing a ready-to-use structure that contains the essential information sections, the template can save time while improving the accuracy of these reports. This allows EMS personnel to complete this necessary documentation optimally.


Alatis, A. S., Monahon, B. V., Raymond, A. D., Hudson, K. B., Vieth, J. T., & Nable, J. V. (2020). Checklists Improve EMS Documentation. Quality Improvement in a Collegiate-Based EMS Agency. The Journal of Collegiate Emergency Medical Services. https://www.collegeems.com/checklists-improve-ems-documentation/

Chen, C., Kan, T., Li, S., Qiu, C., & Gui, L. (2016). Use and implementation of standard operating procedures and checklists in prehospital emergency medicine: a literature review. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine 34(12), 2432-2439. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajem.2016.09.057

Laudermilch, D. J., Schiff, M. A., Nathens, A. B., & Rosengart, M. R. (2010). Lack of Emergency Medical Services Documentation Is Associated with Poor Patient Outcomes: A Validation of Audit Filters for Prehospital Trauma Care. Journal of the american College of Surgeons, 210(2), 220-227. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2009.10.008

Short, M., & Goldstein, S. (2022). EMS Documentation. StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448107/

Wolfberg, D. M., & Wirth, S. R. (2005). Five good reasons for better EMS documentation. EMS World. https://edcgov.us/government/ems/pdf/documents/RequiredReading.pdf

How do you create an EMS Chart Narrative?
How do you create an EMS Chart Narrative?

Commonly asked questions

How do you create an EMS Chart Narrative?

An EMS Chart Narrative can be easily created by using our template! The template provides an easy-to-follow structure that organizes all necessary information neatly and logically. 

When are EMS Chart Narrative Templates used?

EMS Chart Narrative Templates can be used for a variety of scenarios relating to effective EMS documentation of patient care. This resource is typically used during EMS dispatch or health center emergencies.

How are the EMS Chart Narrative Templates used?

The templates are used as a roadmap that helps EMS personnel construct their EMS Chart Narratives. These templates structure all necessary information, allowing professionals to fill in information related to each section simply.

Who creates an EMS Chart Narrative Template?

An EMS Chart Narrative Template is primarily completed by an EMS officer involved in the patient’s care during and following dispatch.

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