Getting a job as a paramedic may sound exciting, and there is a great opportunity for saving lives, but it is a job with a lot of stress involved. Emergency Medical Technicians (the entry level equivalent of a Paramedic) see the worst in car accidents, fires, and are first responders to these types of emergencies. Though this can be an extremely satisfying and rewarding career, it certainly is not for the faint of heart or those who can not handle stress.
Training for Emergency Medical Technicians can be done at the local firehouse, a community or junior college, or perhaps a vocational/technical school. In the beginning you will learn first aid and other important and relevant skills. A person who has worked at the fire department or on an ambulance or in a hospital for awhile has a good background to train for this job. However, all the skills can be learned in school.
You will need to be in good physical condition to do this job. Transporting patients can be difficult work, and you must do it with skill and compassion. A friendly demeanor and general like for people is also imperative.
Most EMT's work long shifts, sometimes working 24 hours at a time, and sleeping at the fire house. These long hours can be frustrating for some, but many feel the job satisfaction, good pay, and good benefits are more than worth it. Many enjoy the extended days off as they will often work three days a week and then be off. Again, it is important to stress that on this job you will encounter many emergency situations, and may have to regularly cope with death or severe injury all in a day's work. If you are squeamish or can't stand the sight of blood, this job is not for you. But if you are compassionate, caring, and want to help people, this can be a very rewarding career choice.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMT-Basic is the entry level position for this occupation. A high school diploma is generally required to begin a program of training to become an EMT at this level. The training then continues in progressive levels to EMT-Intermediate, and then EMT-Paramedic. Get started with your EMT training classes today from any of the approved schools listed on our site.
At the entry level, EMT-Basic, classes and training will stress the importance of emergency skills, such as dealing with trauma, cardiac and respiratory emergencies, and the assessment of patients. The training consists of a combination of formal classes and time learning in an ambulance or emergency room. Students at this level will learn how to apply first aid for fractures, bleeding, clearing airways, and emergency childbirth. They will also learn how to properly use as well as maintain emergency equipment like backboards, oxygen systems, stretchers, and splints. In order to graduate from an approved EMT-Basic program, a student must pass both a written and a practical exam that is administered by the agency responsible for certification in their state.
Training for students at the EMT-intermediate level vary from state to state. Most programs typically require between 30 and 350 hours of training in a broad range of skills. Students at this level will learn more advanced skills, such as administering IV's. EMT-Paramedic is the highest level of training for EMT's. At this level, the EMT acquires knowledge in anatomy, physiology, and more advanced medical skills. This training is usually done in a community college or a technical school, and can take a year to two years. An associate’s degree can be earned for this field. This training prepares the EMT to take the NREMT examination to become a certified Paramedic. Paramedics are always continuing in their education and training, taking refresher courses and doing field work.