Story of the Star of Life and the Staff of Healing


A common question asked  is "What does the staff with the snake coiled around it in the star of life symbol represent?"

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the story goes back to Greek mythology. Asclepius was the Greek god of medicine. In Greek mythology he was the son of Apollo (god of light, truth, and prophecy) and the nymph Coronis. The centaur Chiron taught him the art of healing, but Zeus (the king of gods), afraid that he might render all men immortal, slew him with a thunderbolt.

Star of Life

mcStar.jpg (26337 bytes)


Asclepius was frequently represented standing, dressed in a long cloak, with bare breast holding a staff with a serpent coiled around it. The staff is the only true symbol of medicine. Ironically, the Caduceus with its winged staff and intertwined serpents, used by the Military Medical Corps and some physicians, is without medical origin, since it represents the magic wand of Hermes (in Greek mythology a deity) and Mercury of Roman mythology.

In 293 B.C. because of the plague, Romans adopted the cult of Asclepius who became known in Roman mythology as Aesculapius.

Another significant reference to the serpent on a staff associated with healing is as follows: "Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he recovered." Numbers 21:9

The Star in which the Staff is located is called the Star of Life and it is the international symbol of Emergency Medical Services.  Each of its six points represents a different aspect of EMS.  This symbol appears on all of our units and is incorporated in our logo.