EMT or Paramedic: Which Career is Right for You?
Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers, such as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and paramedics, are the first responders to every emergency call, no matter the time of day, weather, or situation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2015, the median pay for an EMT and paramedic was $31,980, or $15.38 an hour. If job security is a concern, the Bureau also reported a 24 percent projected increase in EMT and paramedic positions between 2014 to 2024.
Let’s take a more indepth look at each position, so that you can determine which one will be best for you:
To become an EMT, one must complete a certification program outlined by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). While every state will have individual requirements for their EMTs, typically, the program takes six months (120-150 hours) of training. Beyond the months of training, you will also need to pass a written NREMT exam.
Once certified as an EMT, you can now perform the following duties:
Provide first-aid treatment (i.e., bandage wounds)
Administer some medications (additional training required)
Set broken bones
Perform emergency childbirth procedures
Stabilize those with neck injuries
Transport patient into ambulance and then to the emergency room at the hospital
Provide nurses and doctors with information regarding the patient.
Both EMTs and paramedics are also responsible for all patient documentation, as well as the restocking and cleaning of their ambulances.
Paramedic To become a paramedic, you must complete the 120-150 hours of training required by the NREMT to become an EMT. Beyond this level of certification, you must also complete an additional 1,200 to 1,800 hours of training.
A paramedic, not an EMT, provides cardiac support for those suffering a heart attack. Because of this, during your additional training, you will learn how to read medical machines typically found in an ambulance, such as an electrocardiograph (EKG) machine, which monitors the heartbeat.
Beyond these life-saving techniques, a paramedic is able to perform every duty bulleted in the EMT list above, as well as provide additional medications to patients, including sedatives and paralytics.
As an EMT or paramedic, you can choose to complete certification in additional areas, such as Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). Through online training, you will learn how to provide life-saving techniques specific to children. The PALS provider card is valid for two years. After its expiration, you will need to complete PALS recertification online, which you can do through the American Heart Association or another online provider.
As a first-responder to an emergency scene, you will be forced to make critical, life-altering decisions for the patients; their lives depend on your quick-thinking and in-depth knowledge.
As an EMT and paramedic, the hours are long and both the physical and emotional requirements for the job can be difficult.
Beyond the medical authority you must project, you must be compassionate, patient, and empathetic. You must also be a good listener and communicator. Whether you choose to become an EMT or paramedic, you will undoubtedly be saving lives.