What is the Job Description of an EMT?

If you’re interested in a career in Emergency Medical Services, you’re more than likely interested in the differences between an EMT vs a paramedic.  To begin, let’s first start with a basic EMT job description, and then we’ll move onto the responsibilities of a paramedic.

An EMT, much like a paramedic, cares for sick and injured patients.  Often arriving on the scene in an ambulance, an EMT responds to emergency medical calls to 911.  They also transport patients to hospitals or other medical facilities.

What an EMT is trained to do once arriving on the scene depends on both their education and training, along with the ailment of the patient.  An Emergency Medical Technician may help a patient by bandaging up a serious wound or injury, for example, or perform CPR if said patient doesn’t appear to be breathing on his or her own.

There are times when patients may not be able to communicate effectively with the EMT on scene (there could be a language barrier, the patient may be incomprehensible, or the patient may actually be unconscious), and in those instances, it’s important for an EMT to be able to assess the patient’s condition and make a quick judgment call under pressure.

There are multiple levels of EMT, and they vary depending on where you live.  In general, however, those who enroll in EMT training school will often see programs divided by the following titles:

EMT Basic: An EMT Basic responds to 911 calls for emergency medical assistance, cares for patients at the scene, and transports patients to a hospital or medical facility.  They are adequately trained to assess a patient’s condition and manage a variety of emergencies.

EMT Intermediate: This may also be referred to as EMT Advanced.  Some states might even refer to this title as an EMT II or EMT III.

Regardless, an EMT Intermediate has received EMT Basic training, but also is trained in more advanced skills such as the use of intravenous fluids as well as certain medications.

So in the EMT vs. paramedic debate, what’s really the difference between the two jobs?

Ultimately, the biggest difference is that paramedics provide their patients with more prehospital care than EMTs do.  And that’s because they’re equipped with more skills and education.

A paramedic, for example, can provide patients with medications both orally and intravenously (this means that a paramedic can puncture a patient’s skin with a needle to administer medication).

They’re also trained to use EKGs, which stands for electrocardiograms.  An electrocardiogram is used to monitor a patient’s heart function.

These are tasks an EMT simply cannot do.

It’s also important to remember that becoming a paramedic requires much more training and education than that of an EMT.  That means that a paramedic program is often more expensive than EMT training, as well.

Paramedic classes are typically longer, as well.  While many can often become an EMT within a matter of months, a paramedic course can take a dedicated student anywhere from six months to two years to complete.

So, ultimately, is it worth training hard to become an EMT or paramedic?  Well, that depends a bit on your personality type, along with the long-term job outlook for these two positions in EMS.

While not necessarily required, it helps if an EMT or paramedic is dedicated to helping their fellow man or woman. EMT and paramedic salary isn’t much compared to some other professions, so it greatly helps to have a passion for helping people get through tough times.

As for the job outlook for Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics, it really couldn’t be any brighter.

According to the US. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of EMTs and paramedics is expected to grow 33% between 2010 and 2020.  So while other jobs and careers get shipped overseas or replaced by modern technology, there continues to be an increasing demand for EMTs and paramedics throughout the country.

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