Allied Health Professions/
Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics respond to emergencies, from someone who may be having a heart attack in her home to multi-vehicle accidents on the highway. EMTs are most frequently found in ambulances but some may provide care for patients being transported by air as well.
They provide first-line medical or emergency care for sick and injured people at the scene, which may be in the person’s home, at an accident site or other places and while they are being transported to the hospital for care. They typically operate in teams with one person serving as an emergency vehicle operator while the other continues to provide life-saving emergency care to the patient en route to a medical facility.
The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians describes four categories of emergency medical practitioners:
Most EMTs and paramedics work full time. They are likely to do shift work that includes weekends, nights and holidays and even 24-hour shift schedules. The average salary for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics is $31,020.
EMTs and paramedics may work in either urban or rural settings, though volunteers staff many rural EMT units. They may work for private ambulance services, fire departments, hospitals or other rescue services.
Depending on a system and its coverage area, career opportunities may also exist in areas like wilderness EMS, special operations, special events, hazardous materials, industrial safety, quality management and other areas.
EMTs and paramedics work with other health care professionals, including nurses and physicians, as well as firefighters and police officers.
EMTs and paramedics experience a much larger than average number of work-related injuries or illnesses.
According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for EMTs and paramedics is expected to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than most other careers.
This career profile has been reviewed by Gina Riggs, B.S., Paramedic, EMS Director, Kiamichi Technology Center, Poteau, Oklahoma.
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All emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics must complete a postsecondary educational program. All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed; requirements vary by state.
EMTs usually complete a course that takes between 120 and 150 hours to complete. Paramedic classes take longer, between 1,200 and 1,800 hours.
EMTs learn how to:
Paramedics learn everything EMTs learn in addition to more advanced skills, including how to:
They may take classes in anatomy, physiology, cardiology, medications and medical procedures. EMT and paramedic courses consist of lectures, hands-on skills training, and clinical and/or field internships.
If you are interested in becoming an EMT or paramedic, these are the basic steps to follow:
Source: UCLA Center for Prehospital Care
Accredited Programs for Paramedics
The National Registry of EMTs (NREMT) requires successful completion of an accredited program as an eligibility requirement for National EMS Certification at the paramedic level. Currently, 44 states utilize the NREMT in the state examination process for paramedic licensure. Successful completion of the NREMT exam is recognized in four states that accept National EMS Certification as an option to state-based testing. Only two states require state-based testing for initial licensure of paramedics. Find out more in this PDF from the National Association of State EMS Officials.
Candidates that graduate from a CAAHEP-accredited program retain the ability to apply for national EMS certification that will enhance the ability to apply for reciprocity in the majority of states.
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Allied Health Professions
Last updated: July 2, 2015
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