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Home > Articles > Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics Still Make House Calls

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics Still Make House Calls

By Jane Greer
Published on December 7, 2009.

Job Duties

EMTs (emergency medical technicians, also known as paramedics) travel to emergency situations to give patients immediate treatment. As an EMT, you might travel by ambulance or helicopter (or perhaps by boat or on skis) to care for people experiencing or involved in a wide range of medical emergencies, including vehicle crashes, heart attacks and strokes, childbirth, household accidents, natural disasters, and gunshot wounds.

Usually, a 911 operator dispatches you to the scene with a partner, and you work cooperatively with the police and fire departments. At the scene, you determine the patients' conditions and medical history. Following medical protocols and using specialized equipment, you treat and release patients with minor injuries, and stabilize patients with major injuries until they're transferred to a hospital.

At the hospital, you transfer the patients and communicate your treatments and observations to hospital nurses and physicians. Depending on the hospital's staffing and workload, you may be asked to temporarily continue treating the patient in the hospital.

Job Skills

You'll need leadership ability and lots of calm self-assurance to effectively deal with people in pain and crisis. Physically, you'll be required to lift heavy loads. You must be good with your hands, agile, and coordinated. You must also have correct color vision and strong eyesight with corrective lenses.

Income

In 2008, the median annual salary of emergency medical technicians and paramedics was $29,330. The earnings of the lowest 10 percent of EMTs were less than $18,880, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $49,440. The largest employers of EMTs and paramedics were local governments (annual mean EMT salary: $35,960) and hospitals (annual mean EMT salary: $32,710).

Training and Education

Formal training is a requirement for any of the three EMT levels: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and EMT-Paramedic.

  • EMT-Basic. To earn this certification, you combine formal coursework with on-the-job emergency-room or ambulance training as you learn to deal with simple emergencies and handle common emergency equipment. Then you need to pass both a written and practical test administered by your state or by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).
  • EMT-Intermediate. Training requirements vary from state to state, take anywhere from 30 to 350 hours to complete, and teach advanced skills such as administering airway devices, giving fluids intravenously, and treating patients with shock trauma or cardiac emergencies.
  • EMT-Paramedic. Colleges and technical schools offer EMT-Paramedic training in courses that take 1 to 2 years and result in an associate's degree. In rigorous classroom, field, and clinical training, students learn anatomy, physiology, and advanced medical skills. After you earn your EMT-Paramedic, you need to take the NREMT exam to become certified. This certification qualifies you for a broad array of supervisory, management, administrative, and director positions.

Employment

In 2006, about 201,000 emergency medical technicians were employed, mainly in cities and metropolitan areas. About 40 percent worked for private ambulance services, 30 percent worked for local governments, and 20 percent worked in hospitals.

Job Outlook

Because the large baby boom generation is aging, experts predict that EMT and paramedic employment will increase by 19 percent between 2006 and 2016--faster than the average for all occupations. Your best bet as an EMT will be to earn an advanced certification such as EMT-Intermediate or EMT-Paramedic and look for work with a private ambulance operator in a large city or metropolitan area.

About the Author
Jane Greer is a freelance writer and editor and is also brave enough to teach English grammar at a community college.
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