EMS & Disaster Medicine

"Yellow Command" Exercise at the San Francisco Emergency Operations Center
2019 NAEMSP Dinner
EMS faculty, fellows, and alumni at the 2019 National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) Conference
2018 Urban Shield Exercise
Mass Casualty Incident Training
EMS Fellows work with paramedic captains on community paramedicine programs
REACH Flight Team
Recording a podcast series on Core Concepts in EMS
2018 NAEMSP Annual Conference
EMS faculty, fellows, and alumni at the 2018 National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) Conference
2017 EMS Retreat
Teaching a class for EMTs
2016 CALMAT/DMAT Earthquake Disaster Exercise
Earthquake Disaster Exercise at Moffett Field
2015 VA/California Air National Guard Exercise

The UCSF Department of Emergency Medicine offers one and two year fellowships in EMS and Disaster Medicine for emergency medicine residency trained physicians.  The program provides training and education in all aspects of EMS and Disaster Medicine including administration, medical oversight, research, teaching, and clinical components.  Duties of the EMS & Disaster Medicine fellow include clinical responsibilities at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG), a Level 1 Trauma Center, as well as the management of specific urban disaster projects through the San Francisco and Alameda County EMS Agencies. 

The EMS & Disaster Medicine section is embedded in the Department of Emergency Medicine with medical student electives in EMS & Disaster Medicine, EM residents with an Area of Distinction in EMS, as well as several areas of active clinical research.  The faculty is involved in the oversight and administration of the EMS system for the City and County of San Francisco as well as Alameda and San Mateo counties.  Our fellowship has ACGME accreditation in EMS Medicine.



The Department of Emergency Medicine at UCSF in collaboration with the San Francisco EMS Agency hosts a fellowship in Emergency Medical Services & Disaster Medicine for emergency medicine physicians.  Two year fellows would be expected to pursue an advanced degree: Masters of Public Health (UC Berkeley), Masters of Public Administration (University of San Francisco), Masters of Science in Clinical Research (UCSF), or Advanced Training in Clinical Research Certificate program (UCSF).  The fellowship program provides training and education in all aspects of EMS including administration, research, medical oversight, teaching, and prehospital clinical care.  The fellowship is tailored toward academic and operational EMS and a graduate will be uniquely prepared for a career in academic EMS and/or medical direction for a regional EMS system.

  • One year or two year fellowship
  • Masters degree or equivalent required for two year fellowship
  • Educational Fees paid for by the fellowship
  • Clinical duties at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital ED, a Level 1 Trauma Center
  • Clinical duties at the San Francisco Veteran's Administration Medical Center Federal Coordinating Center for disasters in the Bay Area
  • Disaster planning experience with SF Emergency Medical Services Agency


  • Understand and master the public administration of EMS Systems at the local, regional, state, national, and international level
  • Perform curriculum development, instruction, and evaluation of EMS provider education at all levels
  • Lead the medical preparation for, and if appropriate, response to major disasters
  • Master EMS research methodology and evaluation
  • Perform competent EMS quality improvement
  • Be eligible to sit for the EMS Medicine board exam at the conclusion of the fellowship program



EMS Fellowship Director

Mary Mercer, MD, MPH
Associate Clinical Professor
Deparment of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco


EMS Fellowship Associate Director 

John Brown, MD, MPA, FACEP
Associate Clinical Professor
Deparment of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco EMS Agency Medical Director


EMS Fellowship Faculty

Christopher Colwell, MD
Chief of Emergency Medicine at ZSFG
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

Raj Daftary, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

David Malmud, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

Eric Silverman, MD, MPH
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

Karl Sporer, MD
Professor Emeritus
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

Clement Yeh, MD, MS
Associate Clinical Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine
Medical Director of the SF Department of Emergency Management
University of California, San Francisco


The faculty and fellows of the UCSF EMS and Disaster Medicine Fellowship Program meet monthly to review the National Association of EMS Medicine seminal textbook "Emergency Medical Services: Clinical Practice and Systems Oversight" 2009 Kendal Hunt Publishers, David C Cone, Robert E O'Connor and Raymond L Fowler, Series Editors, and to write a study guide for this complete work for the EMS Medicine Boards. We condensed approximately 1,800 pages into approximately 70 pages with a simple format: summary of material, and take home messages to help improve our EMS system. The study guide is not intended to be exhaustive and you will see that some chapters had a more thorough review than others based on the needs of our system (these take home messages may or may not be applicable to yours). We would like to share the guide with other EMS professionals as an aid to their preparation to take the examination; we have no financial interests to disclose, and do not imply any exam results based on using our work for your studies. We appreciate the hard work that each chapter author put into their contribution, and especially respect the work of editing and publishing taken on by the series and volume editors. In our opinion, they have advanced the science of EMS medicine and hope we their readers can continue their efforts in the future.

NAEMSP Study Guide




The San Francisco EMS System comprises the geographic area of the City and County of San Francisco with a daytime population of 1.2 million and an annual volume of 70,000 EMS calls. The City has one base hospital (San Francisco General Hospital) and a highly professionalized work force of approximately 400 paramedics and 1,800 EMT-1s. Prehospital oversight and emergency medical disaster planning is provided by the San Francisco EMS Agency, housed in the Department of Emergency Management. The SF EMS Agency is responsible for EMS program development including Public Access Defibrillation, EMS plans for mass gatherings, trauma, stroke and ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction systems, and triage and care of patients with mental health and substance abuse multiple diagnoses with the Mission Street Sobering Center and Psychiatric Urgent Care Center. Close collaboration is achieved with regional EMS agencies and the State EMS Authority on many levels and with many projects.

Our faculty have unique positions of authority in almost all aspects of prehospital care in our community.  This program will be directly partnering with the San Francisco EMS Agency bringing a practical real world level of experience for our fellows.  The Department of Emergency Management provides Police, Fire, and EMS dispatch for all of San Francisco.  This system utilizes the Medical Priority Dispatch System for EMS call dispatch.  The San Francisco Fire Department provides service to approximately 70% of EMS calls are transported by the SF Fire Department.  Both of these entities allow for a unique centralized function for one jurisdiction allowing excellent system analysis.  San Francisco General Hospital is the sole Base Hospital in our community.

Dedicated office space for the EMS Fellowship is provided at the San Francisco and Alameda County EMS Agencies with a prehospital library along with university library access.  The Department of Emergency Medicine has in-house statistical and research design support as well as intramural assistance for grant applications.

The UCSF Department of Emergency Medicine was involved in one of the first NIH sponsored prehospital trials, The Prehospital Status Epilepticus trial (A comparison of lorazepam, diazepam, and placebo for the treatment of out-of-hospital status epilepticus. N Engl J Med. 2001 Aug 30;345(9):631-7.)  This study was also instrumental in informing the Federal Rule for waiver of consent research.  We are currently a site for the San Francisco Node of the Neurological Emergencies Treatment Trials (NETT), an NIH funded multi-city research consortium.  

The San Francisco Department of Public Health is responsible for the planning and implementation of programs to mitigate the impact of disasters on the health of San Franciscans. The fellows will be involved in this phase of public health, including providing medical direction and oversight to the City’s Field Care Clinic system, local pharmaceutical cache for homeland security and disasters, and can participate in the Metropolitan Medical Response System for terrorist attack response.



San Franicsico EMS Agencies has a long history of collaboration with regional EMS agencies and the State EMS Authority on many levels and with many projects.  There will be an opportunity to participate in the EMS Medical Director Association of California meetings as well as the state wide Scope of Practice Committee.  These organizations are important in setting the pace and direction of EMS practice in our state.  There will be an opportunity to take part as a member of the regional CA-6 Bay Area Disaster Medical Assistant Team, a national resource that is dispatched to nationally declared disasters.



EMS physicians may function as consultants on how to provide prehospital care in other nations maximizing resource utilization while providing competent care in a culturally appropriate manner. Recent projects have involved Haiti, Ukraine, Lithuania, Vietnam, and Tanzania.


Clinical and Research Components

Medical Direction:

Medical control - Learn the scope of medical oversight and the responsibilities for providing direct on-line as well as indirect/off-line medical control.

Provider medical direction – Opportunity to assist the medical directors for private and public EMS entities, including dispatch centers, ambulance providers, and an on-campus university Emergency Medical Response system.


The Fellow should come to understand the principles of emergency medical dispatch, communications and 911 systems. The Fellow will learn about how these systems work by spending time in communications and by working with communications staff on continuing education for call takers, guide card revision, and quality improvement.


Participation in Local / Regional / State EMS related functions – The fellow should gain an understanding of the interplay of local, regional and national regulatory processes on EMS administration. Attending local, regional, state and national administrative meetings (EMSAC, EMDAC, Scope of Practice Committee, EMS Commission) is encouraged.

Quality improvement - The Fellow should gain insight into the on-going function of continuous performance improvement program. The Fellow will develop a QI project and present the results to the appropriate organization.  Specific Risk Management cases will be presented for discussion and to inform process improvement and training.

The Fellow is encouraged to gain experience in researching new procedures / devices / medications and fostering service acceptance and / or state acceptance.

Field experience/ride along:

Ride along with ALS and BLS – Ride alongs are required and will enable the fellow to appreciate pre-hospital logistics and inter-service collaboration, directly observe EMT’s and paramedics and build rapport with field personnel. Field experience will involve direct patient care, EMS personnel supervision and training.


Education of Residents, Medical Students, and Paramedics in a variety of teaching environments will be encountered including Lectures, bedside education, and high fidelity human simulation.

Mass gathering/mass casualty medicine:

  • Participation in planning process and provision of care in mass gatherings (involvement in Bay to Breakers Road Race, Halloween Celebration, etc.). The experience can provide the fellow with a better understanding of political and logistical issues involved in the implementation of optimal medical care for mass gatherings. 
  • Participation on mass casualty medicine - Involvement in small and large-scale drills, table top exercises and multi-agency drills (ie: Golden Guardian) The goal is to familiarize the fellow with the difficulties encountered in coordinating an optimal medical response with different services and jurisdictions.
  • The Fellow is encouraged to join DMAT CA-6 for further mass casualty / disaster medical experience.
  • One EMS & Disaster Medicine Fellowship faculty member is a medical officer for CA-6.

Clinical Research:

The Fellow will participate in the development and implementation of a specific EMS related research project.  The areas of research could range from system analysis, efficacy of specific prehospital interventions, EMD process, disaster preparedness to medical education.


Supervisory and Patient Care Responsibilities 

Due to the unique funding from the EMS Agencies, the EMS Fellows will be involved in specific administrative tasks that will be complementary to their education.  The following are some examples of possible roles.

  • Field Care Clinic Medical Director. There are 6 Field Care Clinics, which are mobile medical facilities the City has purchased to provide medical care in time of disaster. These clinics will be staffed by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) and other voluntary medical personnel and are designed to have medical supplies sufficient to care for 50 to 200 patients per hour.
  • Public Access Defibrillation Program Medical Director. There are over 400 PAD programs registered with the EMS Agency; each program has one or more sites where an automatic external defibrillator is placed and personnel who are designated to respond to a cardiac arrest. The EMS Fellows would provide medical direction of this program, visiting sites, doing outreach to potential future sites, and promoting the program and providing education of the general public on this program.
  • EMS Plans for Mass Gatherings Medical Director. The EMS Agency receives approximately 60 EMS plans per year for mass gatherings which need to be reviewed and modified. Some City agencies and private event organizers are providing complete plans, others less complete ones. The EMS Fellows will provide detailed plan review, follow up and the potential for site inspections for these plans and events.
  • Assistance to the EMS Agency Quality Improvement Program.
  • EMS Provider training assistance, including instructor for the City College of San Francisco CoAEMSP accredited paramedic training program, and instructor for the San Francisco Paramedic Association American Heart Association accredited regional training center.
  • Performance Improvement project
  • Clinical Research project

The EMS Fellows will also be required to provide 12 hours of clinical coverage per week in the Emergency Departments at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (both years) and the VAMC (PGY-5 year only).


Teaching Responsibilities 

  • During their function as an attending physician at ZSFG, the fellow supervises the clinical care of UCSF residents and medical students, providing them with real time feedback and education.
  • Participate in the lectures for the UCSF EMS/Disaster Medicine rotation
  • One to two paramedic education lectures per year
  • Aid in the curriculum development for ongoing paramedic training


Progression of Responsibility by PGY Level

First year (PGY-5):

  • Serves as EMS Fellow at ZSFG and VAMC Emergency Departments, providing on-line medical control and teaching UCSF medical students and residents from UCSF, St. Mary's, CPMC, and Kaiser
  • Teaches prehospital providers
  • Completes research project
  • Completes didactics in EMS systems and research
  • Initiated disaster didactics and membership in DMAT
  • Provides medical direction for DPH administrative projects with oversight and graduated responsiblity from fellowship faculty

Second year (PGY-6): 

  • Serves as attending physician at ZSFG Emergency Department, providing on-line medical control and teaching UCSF medical students and residents from UCSF, St. Mary's, CPMC, and Kaiser
  • Teaches prehospital providers and develops curricula and systems improvements locally, state-wide, nationally, or internationally according to interest
  • Completes masters degree
  • Completes research project
  • Continues membership in DMAT and teaches disaster medicine to all levels of providers
  • Provides medical direction for DPH administrative projects with oversight from fellowship faculty
  • Provides mentorship for UCSF EM Residents in EMS/Disaster Area of Distinction


Application Procedure

Please submit the following application material via email to the fellowship coordinator Sandra Lieu. If you have any questions about the program, please contact Dr. Mary Mercer, Fellowship Director.

  • A cover letter explaining your interest in EMS and Disaster Medicine and any previous experience that you have.
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation (one of which must be from your residency program director and another from your department's EMS and Disaster Medicine Director if you have one at your institution)
  • Prospective applicants must also register for the match through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP)

Application Deadline: August 26, 2019

Applicant Interview Day: September 27, 2019


Fellow Characteristics/Requirements

  • Graduate of an ACGME approved U.S. Emergency Medicine residency
  • Board eligible or board certified in Emergency Medicine
  • Qualified to work as an attending at SFGH
  • Must hold a California Medical License and DEA license before starting fellowship