Emergency Medical Technician / Paramedic

How to Become an Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic
EMT & Paramedic Job Duties
Skills and Qualities Needed to Become an EMT
EMT & Paramedic Salaries
Influential Professionals in this Field
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Emergency Medical Technician & Paramedic Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic

There are various "levels" of EMT - First Responder, Basic, Intermediate and Paramedic. Thus, not all EMTs are paramedics. Building on a high school diploma, EMTs must go through a formal training program offered at colleges, universities and specialized schools. Certification of the various levels is handled either by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) and/or the State in which an EMT is practicing.

The first level, First Responder, must complete a U. S. Department of Transportation approved program and passed an exam - and the training must have occurred within the 2 years prior to certification.

EMT-Basic involves training in basic emergency medical care, such as respiratory or cardiac emergencies, trauma, and basic medical assessment. The programs combine in-class coursework with hands-on training with actual time in emergency rooms or ambulances. The types of treatment taught in for EMT-Basic courses have to do with stopping blood loss, addressing fractures, dealing with airway obstruction, addressing cardiac arrest, childbirth (emergency), stabilizing patients bodies (stretchers, splints, blackboards), and administering oxygen. At the end of the program, there is a an exam that has both written and practical portions.

EMT-Intermediate certification and training vary state by state. This level of EMT has to have passed all the requirements to become an EMT-Basic and is usually characterized by having a certain number of practical training or even on-the-job experience. There are two levels of EMT-Intermediate, as defined by the NREMT: EMT-Intermediate/85 and EMT-Intermediate/99. The latter builds on the former. These certifications involve advanced training in additional equipment (e.g. airway devices), some basic pharmacological training, and intravenous treatments.

EMT-Paramedic programs last from 1 to 2 years and are most commonly offered at community colleges or technical schools. Paramedic students often obtain an associates degree. The paramedic programs focus on topics beyond basic emergency medical care, including anatomy, physiology, and some medical treatments also employed in emergency rooms at hospitals.

Licensure and certification for all levels of EMT are obtained through passing exams and are maintained by continuing education.

What does an EMT do?

EMTs are often among the first emergency responders to a scene and sometimes work with fire fighters and police workers. Their primary role is to determine their patient's condition, taking into account both the current circumstances and any of the patient's pre-existing conditions. They then determine the best course of action and treatment for the patent, whether it be to administer emergency medical care, stabilize the patient for transport to a hospital or other facility or to determine, in the end, the patient needs no medical assistance. As EMTs are trained in some basic and sometimes intermediate/advanced medical care procedures, they can administer medical assistance in a number of ways, but often work under the oversight of a licensed physician.

EMTs work in teams, with one person usually responsible for driving and the other for administering medical care during transport. EMTs work both in ground vehicles, like ambulances, and in the air in medical helicopters.

In addition to their on-site medical duties, EMTs are also responsible for the maintenance and stocking of their vehicles, sanitization of their equipment and vehicles, and all the paperwork and documentation of treatment, findings, etc. used at a scene. In addition, not all medical transport care is of the emergency type, but sometimes EMTs transport patients from their homes/nursing facility to a medical facility or between two medical facilities.

What skills or qualities do I need to become an Emergency Medical Technician / Paramedic?

EMTs must be physically fit in order to keep up with crisis situations. There is a lot of heavy lifting, for example. There are also unusual schedules associated with the job, with some EMTs living at a home-like facility for several days as a part of their shift. The idea is they are ready to respond at any time of the day or night. The 24+ hour shifts are compensated with rotating groups of days on and off.

They also have to be able to stay alert for a duration of time and maintain a high level of focus while they're administering emergency medical care. Problem solving skills and a solid knowledge of the human body are chief amongst their skills as is keeping a calm and collected demeanor during crises. Teamwork is also essential as, mentioned above, EMTs work in teams and also with other municipal officers.

How much do Emergency Medical Technicians / Paramedics make?

In 2007 the annual wage range for EMTs was $18,000 - $47,000. The largest employer type is private ambulatory and related health care services. Local governments and hospitals comprise the second largest tier. The highest paying state for EMTs is Alaska, possibly due to the complex challenges weather and terrain present for EMT work.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

A good idea would be to look at who is on the board of directors at the NREMT to see who is leading this field. In addition, the instructors and teachers at various EMT/paramedic programs also may be a good way to see who is a leader in this field.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians Academic and Accreditation Organizations

National Commission for Certifying Agencies

American Psychological Association

American Educational Research Association

National Council on Measurement in Education

What are the top cities for Emergency Medical Technician / Paramedic jobs?

There is no one city where there any better EMT positions than others, because generally wherever people are, there are accidents and crisis situations where emergency medical care is needed.

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