EMT Job Overview
Although there are many different EMT certification levels for EMTs and Paramedics, all EMT work is related to providing immediate and efficient care to the critically ill and injured. Typically, most EMTs are certified to one of five levels that are administered by NREMT, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. The five NREMT certifications are: First Responder, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate/85, EMT-Intermediate/99 and Paramedic. There are also state by state levels and licensure requirements that may differ from the NREMT’s certifications. EMTs and Paramedics provide a vital service as they often are responsible for the urgent care and transport of the sick and injured to a medical facility. EMTs and paramedics are usually dispatched by a 911 operator to the scene where the often will deal with automobile accidents, heart attacks, childbirth, gun shot wounds and a variety of situations that require immediate medical attention.
Upon arriving at a scene, EMTs will assess a patient’s condition and try and determine if there are any pre-existing medical conditions. Before starting any patient care, the EMT will assess wheter the scene is safe, the total number of injuries, and whether additional help is required. EMTs will then provide appropriate emergency medical care following accepted medical protocols and guideline. Some paramedics can treat patients at the scene if they have the proper training and certification.
Duties that may be performed include: opening and maintaining an airway, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, bleeding control, shock management, ventilating patients, and immobilization. After a patient assessment, additional care may be performed. This care could include: providing medication, administration of oxygen, activated charcoal and oral glucose.
EMTs generally work in teams and use specialized equipment such as backboards etc. When transporting a patient to a medical facility, one EMT tends to the patient while the other EMT drives the vehicle. Some EMTs and paramedics also work as part of a Medical Flight operation to transport critically ill patients to trauma centers.
Paramedics and EMTs then help transfer patients to the emergency department once they arrive at the hospital or medical facility. As part of the transfer procedure, EMTs will report their actions and observations to the attending staff. Additionally, EMTs and Paramedics may provide other emergency treatments as required. When an emergency run is completed, EMTs will file necessary reports to document their actions. EMTs will also check their equipment and replace supplies as necessary.
EMTs and paramedics also provide transportation for patients from one medical facility to another, particularly if they work for private ambulance services. Patients often need to be transferred to a hospital that specializes in treating their injury or illness or to facility that provides long-term care, like nursing homes.
EMTs have different duties and responsibilities based on their training and certification. An EMT's salary is often different based on their experience, training, and location.