Pre-hospital emergency medical services (EMS) care offers a logical starting place for addressing the most urgent cases of elder mistreatment. However, barriers such as a lack of training on identifying and responding to elder mistreatment and a lack of knowledge about mandated reporting requirements prevent EMS practitioners from identifying and appropriately reporting suspected cases.

To address this issue, EDC developed Recognizing and Responding to Elder Mistreatment: An Online Training for EMS Practitioners. The course prepares EMS providers to recognize the warning signs of elder mistreatment in the homes, in their interactions with older adult patients, and during physical examinations; communicate critical information about suspected elder mistreatment to emergency department staff during care transitions; and report critical information about suspected mistreatment to adult protective services and/or other agencies designated by state law.

Key Activities

The project carried out the following activities:

  • Identified essential aspects of training content and delivery through qualitative research and collaboration with EMS practitioners, adult protective services providers, and an expert advisory committee
  • Designed and pilot tested an interactive e-learning course for EMS practitioners (explore the course’s first module—use the password EDC)
  • Partnered with the National Association for EMTs for long-term hosting of the course


  • The pilot study showed significant increases in knowledge scores from pre- to post- participation in the training, and these knowledge gains persisted two months later.
  • After the training, participants felt better prepared to understand their role, recognize warning signs of mistreatment, and make reports in line with state mandates.
  • The course will be available to EMS practitioners across the United States for continuing education credit through the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT).

Learn More

July 2019-July 2021
RRF Foundation for Aging

Brad Cannell, University of Texas, NAEMT