June 22, 2021

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Why Do Emergency Services Use Military Time?

Why Do Emergency Services Use Military Time

The primary purpose of emergency services is their response time, which is the time between the initial emergency call and arrival on the scene. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) emergency response time is under 8 minutes.Time plays a crucial role in what emergency services do and an accurate, reliable, and efficient time system eliminates all room for error. This article will discuss why emergency services use military time.

Military time is not only used by the military as the name suggests, it’s also used by government agencies like the national guard and various law enforcement entities like the police force, army, navy, airforce, and marines. Additionally, it’s used by various emergency services, these fall under different services like fire and rescue, emergency medical services (EMS), search and rescue, and technical rescue.

Military time uses a 24-hour clock, which distinguishes each hour with its own number. This is different to the 12-hour clock (also referred to as civilian time, normal time, standard time or regular time), which repeats the same numbers and uses AM and PM to distinguish between day and night. Military time is also called ‘Zulu’ time, which is the military codeword for the letter ‘Z’. The letter ‘Z’ is used to designate the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) time zone.

Military time is also written and pronounced differently than normal time, for example, in normal time terms 1 AM is written and pronounced as 01:00 AM or one o’clock; in military time terms 1 AM is written and pronounced as 0100 or zero one hundred hours.

Why Use Military Time?

Military time is used by the military to minimize all confusion between hours, it’s a primary reason for using it because it creates a more reliable and efficient time system. This is especially crucial for other emergency services where a lapse in time can mean life or death. Having a clearly understood time system recorded after an emergency response call will eliminate confusion for all parties involved, it’s also an easier system to use for record keeping purposes.

There are numerous benefits when using military time compared to standard time. Not only does it eliminate confusion, but it makes all processes easier, and ironically, it saves time. While it may not be used by all civilians due to the different methods used to write it out, it is nonetheless an easy system to learn and convert. Military time does not require a converter chart like standard time conversion charts. A simple equation to calculate the correct time consists of subtracting 1200 from the 24-hour time that needs to be converted, for example, 1500 – 1200 = 3, which will be written as 3:00 PM regular time.

As mentioned above, other benefits include a more efficient record keeping system. With every type of emergency service, including law enforcement, there will be administrative tasks required and the need to have the right time. These include timesheets, log books, reports, or any other formal and official documentation. Using military time on the above will maintain an accurate and consistent record system to refer to. Additionally, working in different time zones will facilitate an easier process when communicating with others, whether it’s via email correspondence or other communication platforms.


There are many benefits when using military time, however, when applied to emergency services, using this time system is a requirement. It’s primary purpose lies in eliminating all confusion between the standard 12-hour time system that uses AM and PM. This sets the tone for every other system to be done more orderly.