futuretoledoemt summarized it well. You should be taught more of this in class as well. Protocols are basically written orders for EMS providers to follow. Some services have rules to interpret them literally, where others have them to be used as guidelines only.
You have to types of directives:
On-line- where you received verbal orders from either the physician or delegated person. For specific orders..
Off-line (standing orders): where one acts upon judgement, and performs tasks or administer medications based upon that.
On-Line: Specific verbal order from a MD or RN
Standing Order/Off-Line: Something that you do not need permission to do
Protocol: Suggested outline of steps for treating a particular problem. You sometimes can't follow them by the letter, but if you deviate from them, be prepared to explain your logic to the brass.
protocols- what the state expects you to do in each set of circumstances. in ma, the protocols detail exactly what you can do. some of the procedures/meds etc are standing orders. some are med control options but all are in the protocols.