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The EMT profession involves a lot of responsibility, knowledge, and the ability to work under pressure. EMT personnel are usually the first ones at the scene of an accident or emergency situation. They are usually called to action by the 911 system and need to be prepared for any type of emergency. These emergencies can range anywhere from vehicle accidents and heart attacks to overdoses and childbirth. The EMT is responsible for the transportation of a patient, via ambulance, to a medical facility for initial treatment or from hospital to hospital. Their responsibility is to provide medical attention to the patient while en route to a hospital where doctors will take over the medical treatment. There are certain risks involved with being an EMT. They are required to work in all types of weather, need to be physically fit as they are constantly bending or lifting heavy objects, and are at risk for contracting an illness.
Becoming an EMT requires candidates to have a high school diploma or GED and be free of a criminal record. Further education is required in the form of training. The training can be achieved at 3 different levels with each level of certification showing the responsibilities of the EMT increasing. All of the fifty states require graduates of these programs to pass a state examination in order to become licensed with certification by the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians). Each state varies on their requirements for licensure. Following licensing or certification, EMTs are required to take continuing education courses throughout their lifetime and to renew their license every two years.
Training for EMT requires one to enter an approved emergency medical technician program. The training can be completed in three different levels. The first level is the EMT-Basic course, the second level is the EMT-Intermediate course, and the third level is the Paramedic course. Depending on the level of certification, the program can run anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, with one receiving either a certificate, diploma, or associate degree.
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The Basic course involves a lot of hands-on activity. Students learn to assess a patient’s condition and how to properly use emergency equipment like the backboards, splints, and stretchers. Additional areas of instruction include, but not limited to, how to operate suction devices and oxygen delivery systems, how to control bleeding situations, and how to deal with airway obstruction, fractures, cardiac arrest, and childbirth. Completion of the basic course requires one to pass an examination administered by that state’s licensing agency or the NREMT. The Intermediate course requires that one be registered as an EMT-Basic. The course involves longer hours of training which usually varies by state. This can range from a few months to a year. Many hours of clinical time are spent in the operating room, emergency department, as well as out on the field. Advanced techniques in airway devices, IVs, and certain medications are skills which students become familiar with. With the paramedic course, the class is usually taught at a local college or technical school and one may obtain an associate’s degree. Paramedics receive the most training and have wide variety of authorized activities such as administering more medications and performing a wider variety of procedures. While taking one or two years to complete, graduates of the course must take the NREMT exam to become a certified paramedic.
EMT positions can be found in a variety of workplace environments. In addition to being employed by a fire department or hospital, work can also be found with emergency medical services, ambulance services, or the local government. The employment outlook for an emergency medical technician is a positive one. There are a number of changes occurring which will result in more EMT hires. With an increase in the aging population, the higher emergency call volume will demand more EMTs to be available. As far as hospitals go, many are becoming specialized in certain areas and EMTs may be required to transport patients to a hospital which can offer the best treatment. And as with all job opportunities, EMTs with the highest level of education and certifications will have an easier time finding employment.
Emergency medical technician earnings will vary by state and geographical area as well as individual training and experience. The average hourly wage for this profession is $15.04 and the annual wage is $31,270. The top paying industries for an EMT is the state government, followed by medical and diagnostic laboratories, home health care services, waste treatment and disposal, and junior colleges. As far as individual states are concerned, Hawaii is the highest paying state with an hourly wage of $23.45, followed by Alaska, District of Columbia, Oregon, and Maryland.