Paramedics and EMTs perform medical services to patients and when necessary, transports them to hospitals or medical facilities for further evaluation and treatment. They respond to emergency situation and injured and ill people depend on them for medical care. In doing so they work closely with police officers and firefighters at emergency sites.
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How to Become a Paramedic (EMT)
A paramedic requires the prerequisites of a high school diploma and a certificate of completion of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), in order to enter a postsecondary education program in emergency medical technology. These training program usually take 1-2 years, however most are not degrees. These vocational training programs and consist of assessing medical conditions, dealing with trauma, respiratory, and cardiac emergencies, using medical field equipment, and responding to emergencies. Many states are beginning to require paramedics to earn an associate’s degree. These programs consist college coursework credits and 1500 hours or more of practical experience. This allows you to administer intravenous medications or advanced wound care for example.
In addition to training, a paramedic must get certified through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). NREMT certification requires completion of a certified paramedic program and passing the national exam, both the written and practical parts. Most states also require you to get licensed; check with your states medical board for more information. There is also a difference between a paramedic and an EMT as a paramedic has met additional educational requirements. Visit UCLA’s website which outlines the difference between an EMT and Paramedic (link opens in a new tab).
Job Description of a Paramedic
When an emergency call comes in from a 911 operator, a paramedic is sent to the scene to help the sick or injured person and, if necessary, transport them to a hospital. He or she may drive the ambulance or they may stay with the patient to monitor them and give emergency care. Some paramedics work with a helicopter flight team and would transport a patient by air and give medical treatment in route, normally caring for the serious or critically ill. They are skilled and qualified to asses a patient’s condition and manage cardiac, respiratory, and trauma situations.
They can give oral and intravenous medications, interpret electrocardiograms (EKG’s) and operate complex medical equipment. Some paramedics work on a volunteer basis, but paid paramedics normally work full-time hours, including nights, week-ends and holidays. This occupation is considered physically and mentally demanding as paramedics both indoors and outdoors as well as in all types of inclement weather. Their work day is very physical and can be stressful, sometimes involving life-or-death situations.
Paramedic Career Video Transcript
Ambulance sirens are a daily sound backdrop to city life. TV dramas and real-life news programs alike feature high-speed trips to rescue victims and speed them to life-saving medical care. Inside the ambulance, the on-site care providers are emergency medical technicians, known as EMTs and paramedics. These professionals respond to 911 emergency calls, evaluate a patient’s needs, and perform needed medical services, such as administering CPR, stabilizing a trauma victim, or dressing a wound. Some paramedics serve on rescue crews based on helicopters or airplanes. Most paramedics and EMTs work for ambulance services, local government, and hospitals. Their work requires frequent kneeling, bending, and lifting to care for and move patients.
EMTs and paramedics may be exposed to contagious diseases and dangerous situations, and may need to treat combative individuals who don’t want treatment. Their work schedules vary: volunteers are scheduled as needed, while most paid staff work full-time in 12- or 24-hour shifts, including overnights and weekends. A formal educational program and licensure are required for this field, though states vary in what tasks they allow EMTs and paramedics to perform. Some states may require paramedics to have an associate’s degree, for example, to qualify to administer medications and use complex equipment, such as EKG monitors. In case of emergency it’s reassuring to know that EMTs and paramedics are ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, EMTs and Paramedics.
National Center for O*NET Development. 29-2041.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.