EMT Paramedic Job Description

Emergency responders providing care; EMT and Paramedic's are usually the first healthcare providers on an accident scene. Providing life saving interventions and care.

Emergency responders providing care; EMT and Paramedic's are usually the first healthcare providers on an accident scene. Providing life saving interventions and care.

The EMT Paramedic job description requires Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and Paramedics to work in stressful and physically demanding settings. They typically work irregular hours and are often expected to work 12 hour shifts as well as week-ends and holidays. As part of the emergency medical treatment team they are usually the first medically trained responders at the scene of an emergency or accident.

The EMT Paramedic Job description varies depending on where the EMT/Paramedic is employed. EMT's and paramedics employed by fire departments work about 50 hours a week. Those employed by hospitals frequently work between 45 and 60 hours a week, and those in private ambulance services, between 45 and 50 hours. Some of these workers, especially those in police and fire departments, are on call for extended periods.

People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. A paramedic is an emergency medical technician with additional advanced training to perform more difficult pre-hospital medical procedures.

Incidents as varied as automobile accidents, heart attacks, drowning, childbirth, and gunshot wounds all require immediate medical attention. EMTs and paramedics provide this vital attention as they care for and transport the sick or injured to a medical facility as part of the EMT Paramedic job description.

The type of procedures and the level of medical intervention performed will depend on the skill level and certification of the individual. The basic EMT may not be able to administer certain types of drugs or perform certain tasks. There are different levels of training from Basic EMT, EMT 1,2, or 3 all the way up to Paramedic. Paramedics frequently perform more complex tasks under the direct supervision of a physician who may direct them by telephone or radio.

Working Environment

EMT Paramedics work in varied conditions. They frequently are exposed to the same hazards and occupational stresses as firefighters and law enforcement workers. Shift work, week-ends and holidays are often considered the norm. Long hours are a frequent work standard.

Education and Training

Training to become a basic EMT may require a vocational course of approximately 16 weeks. Each level requires progressively more training. Paramedics will typically enroll and graduate from a program that lasts approximately 2 years. Additional courses in biology, chemistry, math and statistics may be required to obtain an associate’s degree.

Licensing and Credentialing

In all 50 states and the U.S. Territories EMT's and Paramedics are regulated. The usual method to be a credentialed and licensed EMT or Paramedic is:
1)  Complete an accredited course of study; usually from a college or university.
2) Pass a national exam 
3) Apply for licensure or certification in the state you wish to practice in.

Important Points to consider

Because emergency services function 24 hours a day, emergency medical technicians and paramedics have irregular working hours.

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics need formal training and certification, but requirements vary by State.

Employment is projected to grow much faster than average as paid emergency medical technician positions replace unpaid volunteers.

Competition will be greater for jobs in local fire, police, and rescue squad departments than in private ambulance services; opportunities will be best for those who have advanced certification.

Career Progression

The majority of EMT's or Paramedics are employed in metropolitan areas. Typically wages are tied to the fortunes of the healthcare industry. Advancement to higher paying jobs is minimal as the career ladder has fewer rungs than most jobs. Opportunities for advancement and higher wages are better for those who work in the public sector and/or in a union setting.

 Resources for EMT / Paramedic Job Description

EMT Paramedic Job Description Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT)

San Francisco Paramedics Association: SFPA 

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