Working As An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

Working as an EMTYou’ve pulled over and let ambulances, with their lights flashing, pass you by. But have you ever dreamed of being the hard working lifesavers inside? A career as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) might then be just the job for you.

What Do Paramedics and EMTs Do?

EMTs and paramedics are the first on the scene in any accident or other incident where a person is injured. EMTs not only provide immediate emergency medical treatment—more specialized care can be provided by EMTs with extra training. All of this care is usually performed while transporting the patient to the hospital.

Once an EMT arrives at the scene of an incident, their primary focus is to determine the injured persons condition and medical history. They then provide medical care based on pre-established norms. When possible, emergency medical personnel provide care at the patient’s home or at the scene without taking them to the hospital. However, when more serious medical attention is required, specialized doctors may talk the EMTs or paramedics through the procedures over the radio en route to the hospital.

EMTs and paramedics usually work in teams—one drives the ambulance while the other takes care of the patient, who has been placed on a stretcher and secured to the ambulance. In some situations EMTs and paramedics work as part of a helicopter crew that rushes patients to hospitals when extreme medical attention is required more quickly.

Once they transport their patient to the hospital, emergency medical personnel report what care they have provided, as well as information regarding the patient’s condition and injuries. They then prepare their vehicle for the next call by replenishing their supplies and cleaning the interior.

Types of EMTs

There are several levels of EMTs and paramedics that determine the level of care they may provide. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) designates four levels:

  • First Responder
  • EMT-Basic
  • EMT-Intermediate
  • EMT-Paramedic

Many emergency professionals like police and firefighters are certified first responders. They provide the most basic level of medical care because they usually are the first people to arrive at the scene.

EMT-1s, or EMT-Basics, are trained in basic cardiac, respiratory, and traumatic injury emergency care. They care for the patient en route to the hospital.

EMT-Intermediates, comprising EMT-2s and EMT-3s, have additional training that allows them to use defibrillators to restart a heart that has stopped, give fluids intravenously, and clear the airway using sophisticated techniques and equipment.

EMT-Paramedics, or EMT-4s, may perform all of the procedures the lower levels can plus give oral or intravenous drugs, read EKGs (electrocardiograms), do endotracheal intubations, and use a variety of complex equipment.

Emergency medical care is required 24 hours a day and is in high demand, so choosing a career as an EMT means wonderful job security.

How Do You Become An Emergency Medical Technician?

Formal training and certification is needed to begin a career as an Emergency Medical Technician. All 50 states have a certification procedure. EMT Training programs are available at many colleges across the country, and training typically takes about two years. Basic coursework typically emphasizes emergency skills such as managing respiratory trauma and cardiac emergency and patient assessment. Formal courses are often combined with time in an emergency room or ambulance. Programs often also provide for instruction and practice dealing with bleeding, fractures, airway obstruction, cardiac arrest, and emergency childbirth. Students learn how to use and maintain common emergency equipment such as backboards, suction devices, splints, oxygen delivery systems, and stretchers. Once you are certified as an Emergency Medical Technician, you must also meet continuing education requirements.

If you want an exciting career saving lives, becoming an Emergency Medical Technician is the job for you!

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