Emergency Management and
Fire Marshal's Office
Office Number (704)484-4841 Fax Number
P.O. Box 2232 Shelby, NC 28151
The Star Of Life is one of the most highly recognized symbols in the world. Most of us associate the star of
life with emergency medical care. The six points of the star represent the six aspects of the EMS system:
Detection, reporting, response, on scene care, care in transit, and transfer to definitive care. The snake and
staff in the center of the Star Of Life represent Asclepius, the son of Apollo in Greek mythology. Cheron taught
Asclepius how to heal the sick and injured. Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, worried that Asclepius could make all
men immortal with his powers of healing. To prevent this from happening Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt.
How and why did this all come together in what we now know as the Star Of Life?
Leo R. Schwartz, chief of the EMS branch of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, designed the modern
Star Of Life in the 1970’s after complaints from the red cross that many ambulance companies and other EMS
organizations were using the Omaha orange cross, which was the symbol used by the red cross. Schwartz’s design was
an adaptation of the symbol used by the American Medical Association. The Star Of Life was registered as a
Certification Mark in February of 1977. The Star Of Life cannot be used by just anyone. Generally you must have
some type of association with emergency medical services. It is most commonly seen on emergency vehicles, on the
uniforms of EMS personnel, and to indicate emergency medical facilities.