Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic

Ambulance Driver-Paramedic, Emergency Department Technician (ED Technician)   More Names
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Emergency Medical Technician, Basic (EMT, B), Emergency Medical Technician/Driver (EMT/DRIVER), Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics, Emergency Room Technician, EMT Intermediate (Emergency Medical Technician, Intermediate), EMT, Paramedic (Emergency Medical Technician, Paramedic), EMT-I/85, EMT-I/99, EMT-P, EMT/Dispatcher (Emergency Medical Technician/Dispatcher), EMT/Paramedic (Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic), First Responder, Flight Paramedic, Full-time Paramedic, Healthcare Specialist, Medical Technician, Multi Care Technician (Multi Care Tech), Paramedic, Rescue Worker

Assess injuries, administer emergency medical care, and help to free trapped individuals. Administer first-aid treatment and life-support care in pre-hospital settings. Transport sick or injured persons to medical facilities. Perform emergency diagnostic and treatment procedures, such as stomach suction, airway management or heart monitoring, during ambulance rides. Observe, record, and report to physician, usually at a hospital emergency room, the patient's condition or injury, the treatment provided, and reactions to drugs and treatment.

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics work for private ambulance companies; local fire and police departments; hospitals; and other public emergency medical service agencies. Some who work for emergency medical service agencies may serve as volunteers without pay in their communities.

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics are trained to provide medical care to people who are suffering from an illness or an injury outside of a hospital setting. They work under guidelines approved by a physician medical director to recognize, assess, and manage medical emergencies and transport patients to hospitals or other locations to receive medical care. Emergency medical technicians provide basic life support and paramedics provide advanced life support.

People's lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. Incidents as varied as automobile accidents, heart attacks, strokes, slips and falls, childbirth, and gunshot wounds require immediate medical attention. EMTs and paramedics provide this vital service as they care for and transport the sick or injured to a medical facility. In an emergency, EMTs and paramedics are typically dispatched by a 911 operator to the scene, where they often work with police and fire fighters.

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics are classified, licensed, and certified based on their level of knowledge, skills, and training. Beginning in 2012 and continuing over the next several years, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) is phasing-in new training and re-training requirements plus new name titles for EMTs and paramedics. As a result of these changes, the new titles will be: Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), and Paramedic.

Prior to these training and naming changes, the most commonly recognized levels for EMTs and paramedics were: First Responder, EMT-Basic (EMT-1); EMT-Intermediate (EMT-2); and Paramedic (EMT-3). The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certifies emergency medical service providers. All states have licensing requirements for EMTs and paramedics, and some states also have their own certification programs as well as use of other distinct names and titles.

All EMTs must be proficient in first-aid, and training is centered on recognizing and treating life-threatening emergencies outside the hospital environment. EMTs learn the basics of how to handle cardiac and respiratory arrest, heart attacks, seizures, diabetic emergencies, respiratory problems, and other medical emergencies. They also learn how to manage traumatic injuries such as falls, fractures, lacerations, and burns. EMTs also are introduced to patient assessment, history taking, and vital signs.

First Responders use a limited amount of equipment to perform initial patient assessments and interventions and also are trained to assist other EMS providers. The term "first responder" applies to the first individual who arrives at the scene of an emergency regardless of such individual's credential and/or degree of emergency care training. As a result, the First Responder is a key member of the overall Emergency Medical Services Team.

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are prepared to care for patients at the scene of an accident, or other emergency, and while transporting patients by ambulance to the hospital. The EMT has the emergency skills to assess a patient's condition and manage respiratory, cardiac, and trauma emergencies.

Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (AEMTs) have more advanced training. However, the specific tasks that those certified at this level are allowed to perform varies from state to state.

Paramedics provide more extensive pre-hospital care than do EMTs or AEMTs personnel. In addition to carrying out the procedures of the other levels, paramedics administer medications orally and intravenously; interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs); perform endotracheal intubations (i.e. placement of a flexible plastic tube into a patient's windpipe to maintain an open airway); and use monitors and other complex equipment. They have extensive training in patient assessment and are exposed to a variety of clinical experiences during training. As in the case of AEMTs, the range of procedures paramedics are permitted to perform varies from state to state.

Paramedics can become supervisors, operations managers, administrative directors, or executive directors of emergency services. Some EMTs and paramedics become instructors, dispatchers, or physician assistants; others move into sales or marketing of emergency medical equipment. A number of individuals become EMTs and paramedics to test their interest in health care before training as registered nurses, physicians, or other healthcare workers.

Credentials Needed: All 50 states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed, but the levels and titles vary from state to state. Most states and the District of Columbia require certification by the NREMT at some or all levels. Some states administer their own certification or licensing examinations or administer the appropriate national NREMT examination. Many states require a criminal background check to become an EMT or paramedic, and restrict licensure based on an individual's criminal history.

Effective January 1, 2013, all paramedics must graduate from a Paramedic training program accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or hold a Letter of Review from the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for Emergency Medical Services Professions(CoAEMSP), to be eligible to take the NREMT's national Paramedic Examination. This new policy also includes EMTs who are continuing their education and training to become paramedics, and who are advised to carefully research their choices before selecting a school.

NREMT requirements for taking each of the EMT and paramedic certification examinations are available on their website at NREMT - Transition Policy.

Some Key Things to Remember: Emergency medical technicians and paramedics assess injuries, administer emergency medical care, and help to free trapped individuals. They transport sick or injured persons to medical facilities, and administer first-aid treatment and life-support care to individuals in pre-hospital settings. Training is offered at progressive levels: EMT, AEMT, and Paramedic. All 50 states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed or certified, but requirements vary from state to state.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
24% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $25,850 - $42,710    Hourly: $12 - $21
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Work indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather, and are required to do considerable kneeling, bending, and heavy lifting. They often work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Many work more than 40 hours per week.

Legal Requirements
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Certificate (High School + 0-4 years, Certificate awarded)
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Percent Job Growth:

24% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $25,850 - $42,710

Hourly: $12 - $21