Summary Emergency medical services are provided by the fire defence headquarters of the local government in Japan. There is a one-tiered EMS system. Ambulances are staffed by three crew members trained in rescue, stabilisation, transport, and advanced care of traumatic and medical emergencies. There are three levels of care provided by ambulance personnel including a basic-level ambulance crew (First Aid Class One, FAC-1), a second level (Standard First Aid Class, SFAC), and the highest level (Emergency Life Saving Technician, ELST). ELSTs are trained in all aspects of BLS and some ALS procedures relevant to pre-hospital emergency care. Further development of an effective medical control system is imperative as the activities of ambulance crews become more sophisticated. A marked recent increase in the volume of emergency calls is another issue of concern. Currently, private services for transportation of non-acute or minor injury/illness have been introduced in some areas, and dispatch protocols to triage 119 calls are being developed.