What Is The Difference Between An Emergency Medical Technician And A Paramedic?

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics play a very important role in situations where life and death hang in the balance. They provide emergency care at the scene of an accident or injury and are integral in helping victims survive before they are transported to the hospital for more comprehensive care. They respond to 911 calls for help, arrive at the scene speedily and assess the patient’s condition to determine the best course of action to take.

However, there are fundamental differences between EMTs and paramedics even if they work for the emergency medical services field. It’s important to understand what these are since there are duties and responsibilities that one can do and the other cannot. The first distinction that is worth remembering is that all paramedics are EMTs but not all EMTs are paramedics. The most fundamental training given in the area of emergency medical services is that of an EMT-Basic or simply, an EMT. In some states, EMT-Basic is referred to as EMT-1 while in others, it is known as EMT-B (which also stands for basic). EMTs who have completed basic training are able to evaluate a patient’s condition, know how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and can handle cardiac and respiratory emergencies as well as situations involving trauma in a victim.

EMTs can administer glucose to diabetic patients and give oxygen to victims who are having difficulty breathing. For asthmatic patients, they may give asthma inhalers or relevant treatment. In addition, they may also administer auto-injections to patients suffering from allergic reactions. With the exception of auto-injectors, EMTs are not allowed to provide treatments to patients that entail breaking the skin. Thus, they are generally not able to handle needles. The training for an EMT-Basic course takes anywhere from 120 to 150 hours.

Paramedics, on the other hand, have received advance EMT training. As such, they can give more comprehensive emergency care than those who have only completed EMT-Basic training. They are authorized to give both oral and intravenous medications. That means they can administer medications that involve breaking the skin or more simply, they can give injections. They also know how to resuscitate patients who have heart problems or are otherwise suffering from extensive traumas. Only paramedics can use complex equipment and provide advanced airway management procedures to patients who need it. They are also trained to interpret electrocardiogram or EKG results which are essential in helping them determine what a patient’s heart problem is. They are also able to administer anywhere from 30 to 40 medications. Paramedics also spend substantially more hours in training, with courses lasting anywhere from 1,200 to 1,800 hours.

In some states, there are EMTs who receive more advanced training than EMTs but not as much as that given to paramedics. They are called Advanced EMTs and have completed EMT-Intermediate training. In addition to being able to give some medications, Advanced EMTs can also administer intravenous fluids.

No matter what their differences are, all EMTs and paramedics must get their license before they can provide emergency medical services. Although each state has its own licensing requirements, they typically require completion of the appropriate program and passing a national exam.

Career Spotlight: Emergency Medical Technician

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