In order to get an update on prehospital emergency medicine practice all over Europe we submitted questionnaires with a total of 61 questions concerning prehospital emergency medicine in Europe, to 123 European members of the World Association of Emergency and Disaster Medicine (WAEDM). Sixty (49%) questionnaires were returned. One up to seven questionnaires from 22 European countries were analysed: 37 (62%) from urban and 23 (38%) suburban or rural areas; 12 being from former Eastern European countries. Sixteen of the questions--those concerning rescue systems and equipment--are analysed and presented in this paper. A fleet of ambulance cars staffed with paramedics/nurses based at the emergency organization is the most frequently used system in 59% (10/17) of the countries. The same percentage claims to have a ground-based coverage of its area of 80-100%. Airborne coverage between 80-100% and below 60% of the areas is given in the same percentage of 35% (6/17). Physicians are frequently involved in prehospital emergency care in the Eastern European Countries, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Turkey, rarely in Switzerland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Greece, Ireland and Finland, never in the Netherlands and Sweden. In more than 50%, a combination of national, regional and local organizations provide emergency care, which results in large differences of standards. We discovered remarkable differences which could be overcome by enhanced co-ordination and information exchange provided by the European Society for Emergency Medicine, WAEDM, the European Red Cross or the European Academy of Anaesthesiologists.