Job OverviewThe paramedic provides medical care to the sick or injured at an advanced life support level in emergency medical settings, in pre-hospital environment. EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls, offering medical care and transporting patients to the appropriate medical facilities. The 911 operator sends EMTs and paramedics to where an emergency situation has occurred, scene where the medical team often works together with the police and firefighters.
The paramedic must make an initial assessment, place a diagnosis and make a treatment plan to manage the patient’s healthcare crisis. He or she provides out-of-hospital treatment, but some paramedics may deal with hospital-based care-giving, such as treatment of injuries. The paramedics are commonly based in the fields in ambulances, emergency response vehicles, emergency helicopters and other mobile units, like cycle response.
We will discuss the duties of the paramedics together with those of the EMTs. Here they are:
- Responding to 911 calls for emergency medical assistance, such as CPR and hemorrhage control.
- Assessing the patient’s condition and deciding on a course of treatment.
- Keeping patients still and safe in the ambulance by using backboards and restraints.
- Participating in the transport of patients to the emergency department of a medical facility and reporting their observations and treatment to the medical staff there.
- Creating a patient care report, as the medical care given to the patient must be documented.
- Replacing the used supplies and cleaning equipment after its use.
- Moving the patient from one healthcare facility to another. Patients may need to be transferred to a medical facility that specializes in their injury or illness or to a long-term care facility, for example a nursing home.
- Decontaminating the inside of the ambulance when patients with contagious diseases are transported.
Exact responsibilities of EMTs and paramedics vary with their level of training and the state they are employed in. There are four levels of national certification for EMTs and paramedics, provided by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT):
- Two levels for EMT-Intermediate, called 1985 and 1999
Different titles can be used in some states.
The paramedic has the knowledge and skill to provide more extensive pre-hospital care than the EMT. While EMTs assess and manage respiratory, cardiac and trauma emergencies and can, depending on their level, also make use of some IV fluids and medications, the paramedics can perform all these tasks and, in addition, give oral and IV medication, interpret EKGs and use monitors and complex equipment.
SalaryAccording to the BLS, in 2010, the median annual wage of EMTs and paramedics was $30,360. Those who earned the least, earned less than $19,700 and those who earned the most earned more than $51,300.
TrainingFirst of all, an EMT or paramedic needs to have a very good physical condition, as the job involves a lot of bending, lifting and kneeling. All EMTs and paramedics must complete a training program and be licensed, with the license requirements varying by state.
The prerequisites for the education and training programs are a high school diploma or equivalent and CPR certification. During high school, anatomy and physiology classes should be taken. Formal training and education is then offered by technical institutes, community colleges and facilities specialized in training on emergency care.
In order to become a paramedic, EMT-level and Advanced EMT training must be completed, as well as training in advanced medical skills. About 1,300 hours of training are included in paramedic programs, which may take up to two years. EMTs and paramedics are certified by the NREMT.
For driving an ambulance, separate training and licensure are required. Some emergency healthcare facilities hire separate drivers.