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The Meaning of (The Star of) Life

While more common in the United States where it was created, this emblem has spread around the world to symbolize Emergency Medical Services and the professionals providing prehospital care. You will find it on uniforms, vehicles, equipment, etc. But did you know that it represents so much more. Here are the some of the meanings hidden in this simple emblem.


    1. It is trademarked

    At least in the United States as a registered certification mark.

    2. Each of the six arms have been given a different meaning.

    These six legs are the basic tenets of EMS. Each component is dependent on the others and carries equal weight.

    3. Detection

    4. Reporting

    5. Response

    6. On-Scene Care

    7. Care in Transit

    8. Transfer to Definitive Care

    9. Snake and Staff

    This has been recognized for centuries as the Staff of Asclepius, an ancient Greek physician deified as a god of medicine. Some texts will refer to the Rod of Asclepius. The staff (and rod) is an ancient symbol of medicine and healing. The snake represents renewal.

    10. Blue may not mean what you think.

    Through the ages, the color blue has been seen to represent many different things. Heaven, trust, loyalty, bravery, as a small sampling. But the reason the Star of Life is blue is because it was updated and modified by the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA). And then, as now, the color blue on highway signs in the U.S. is used to indicate what road or traveler services are located here or nearby. EMS is an essential service. And services get blue.

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