How To Become An Emergency Medical Technician
Career Video: Emergency Medical Technician
If you want a career that enables you to save lives each time you go to work, you can consider being an emergency medical technician (EMT). In this profession, you have the opportunity to respond to 911 calls. Together with paramedics, firefighters and police, you give first aid treatment to those caught in accidents and other traumatic situations. You will assess the victim’s vital signs and give cardiopulmonary resuscitation if they need it. You’ll also be asked to transport the victim to the nearest healthcare facility, inform the attending physicians of his condition and make a patient report detailing the incident.
EMTs must not only have the technical knowledge to save lives. You must also be compassionate since you will need to give emotional support to the victims you save. You will also need to be physically strong since you will be lifting, bending and kneeling in the course of your duties. You will also be working in all kinds of weather conditions and at any time of the day or night. You must also possess excellent problem solving skills to determine the most appropriate course of treatment for a victim’s condition.
There are two kinds of EMTs:
- EMT or EMT-Basic
- Advanced EMT or EMT-Intermediate.
An EMT, also known as EMT-Basic, can evaluate the condition of the patient and care for them at the scene. They are trained to handle emergencies involving respiratory, cardiac and trauma conditions. Meanwhile, an Advanced EMT or EMT-Intermediate may also administer intravenous fluids as well as medications in addition to handling the duties of an EMT-Basic.
You should also have the capability to listen to your patients so that you can understand what they are trying to communicate. You should also know how to communicate well because in emergency situations where you are the only one who knows what to do, you are the one in the position to give orders to those in the scene.
Why Become An Emergency Medical Technician
There are many reasons to become an EMT but the most important reason is that it is a noble profession that gives you the chance to do good every day. Not a lot of careers give you the chance to save people in life-and-death situations, making this occupation very meaningful especially to the lives and families of the people you save. On the practical side of things, another reason to become an EMT is that it has a good job outlook in the coming years, providing a lot of job opportunities. EMTs also receive a decent living wage.
Emergency Medical Technician Work Environment
EMTs, together with paramedics, work in all kinds of weather. They are usually hired by ambulance service companies, governments and hospitals. The nature of their work makes the rate of injuries and illnesses of EMTs and paramedics higher than the national average. Aside from the constant bending and lifting, they may also get infected by patients who have contagious diseases or get injured by those who are psychologically unstable. However, they can minimize these risks by observing the correct safety protocol and wearing protective gear.
Depending on their company, EMTs can work in shifts of 12 or even 24 hours long which includes weekends and evenings. They may also be on-call, which means that they have to be ready to serve any time there is an emergency.
Emergency Medical Technician Salary
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of EMTs and paramedics was $34,870. In 2012, the agency reported that EMTs and paramedics were paid $31,020. In that year, the lowest ten percent were paid less than $20,180 while the upper ten percent received over $53,550.
Emergency Medical Technician Career Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the employment rate of EMTs and paramedics is forecasted to rise 23 percent in the decade covering 2012 to 2022. This rate is much faster than the average for all job types. The demand will come from the fact that there will always be accidents, natural calamities and violent acts which will require their services. In addition, the growing number of the elderly population will also contribute to the demand because they are more prone to heart attacks, strokes and other diseases. Thus, from the 239,100 EMTs and paramedics hired in 2012, the number will increase to 294,400 in 2022.
Emergency Medical Technician Degree
Aspiring EMTs need to have a high school diploma and a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification before they can enroll in a postsecondary educational program in emergency medical technology. EMT programs are typically less than a year in duration but are non-degree programs that can be obtained from community colleges, technical institutes and emergency care training facilities. These classes generally teach students how to assess a patient’s condition, clear airways, address trauma and cardiac cases, properly utilize field equipment and manage emergencies. This usually requires about 150 hours of specialized instruction.
Those who take up Advanced EMT courses need to complete 300 hours of instruction in addition to finishing the EMT level training. Topics which include how to use sophisticated airway equipment and administer intravenous fluids as well as some medicines are discussed in Advanced EMT training. Those who want to undergo more training can also become paramedics. Moreover, EMTs and paramedics also take a course in ambulance driving which requires about 8 hours of instruction so that they can be eligible to drive an ambulance. However, they may not always have to drive because companies usually hire their own drivers.
All EMTs and paramedics need to be licensed by the state where they intend to work. To be eligible for licensing, a common requirement is certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). In order to get certified, they must finish a certified education program and pass a national exam. States have their own regulations regarding licensing but many of them require checking of the applicant’s background. If they find a criminal record in the aspiring EMT’s past, they will usually deny the license.