This is the English version of the article Architektur des Rettungsdienstes in Deutschland. Teil I: Einordnung in das System der operativen Gefahrenabwehr Notfall Rettungsmed (2019) 22:136–146. The German version can be found under https://doi.org/10.1007/s10049-018-0539-z.
In part I, the emergency medical services (EMS) which is part of the public protection system in Germany that works together with police and fire departments is described. Both the development of the EMS and the public protection system are examined. The public protection system of fire departments and EMS is structured into a system for everyday use and an additional system for major accidents and disasters (civil protection system). Fire departments protect people from “external (technical) threats”, while EMS mainly treat and protect from “illness and injuries (internal threats).” The associations and interactions between these actors are described. This article is freely accessible via the “Editors Pick” Choice.