LP Research Resources January 16, 2017

What is an EMT?

An EMT is a skilled, trained individual who is often the first responder to perform emergency medical care services. Emergency Medical Technician is the precise definition of the acronym EMT and even though the term varies among jurisdiction, the term is used and recognized in many countries. An EMT is frequently known and/or referred to as an ambulance technician, first responder, or ambulance attendant/driver/orderly.

Although the reference terms and services for EMTs may differ from one jurisdiction to another, especially in other countries, the universal term of EMT refers to a professional who performs certain medical procedures. This includes transporting patients to a hospital or medical facility, all in accordance with protocols and guidelines of the jurisdiction in which they work. Their role is to provide immediate medical care to patients at any location where the patient is, prior to arriving at a medical facility, often during transportation.

Common responsibilities & tasks:

Responding to emergency calls, administering (often lifesaving) medical procedures, including but not limited to cardiopulmonary resuscitation, controlling external bleeding, maintain patients’ airway and adequate breathing, preventing shock, immobilization and/or damage to the spinal cord, and defibrillation.  Transporting the patient to the nearest medical healthcare facility is a vital part of EMS services. This can be done in many forms of transportation such as an ambulance, life-flight helicopter or military vehicle.

The profession and term is fairly new in the history of medical care. When one considers ancient medical care has been around for centuries, the role of an EMT has only been in place since the 1970s. Previously it was hospital staff or physicians who took on the role of an emergency medical provider. Now, in today’s world, EMTs and paramedics perform a vital role, that of the “on the scene” emergency medical care. This emergency care service often means a life is saved, one which otherwise would not have been the case if the patient had to wait to arrive at a hospital or health care facility.

Employment and Training

Emergency medical technicians usually work as part of rescue teams formed by hospitals, police, fire departments, and military. Their position can be both paid employment and voluntary services. In fact, in many smaller towns or jurisdictions with little or no funding available, EMTs are often volunteers working from their local fire stations.

The first step towards obtaining EMT training is searching for a college or vocational institute that offers EMT paramedic training courses. The training is short, usually only a few months, unless the student is pursuing a paramedic certification.  That paramedic training usually takes up to two years.

Eligibility Criteria for EMT training:

You must be at least 18 years old (though some agencies allow age 16)
You must have a high school diploma (or equivalent, such as a GED)
You must have no physical disability (must pass a physical)
You must have no criminal record (background checks required)
You must pass basic education courses (such as math and English)
You must pass a drug test
You must have current immunization records

Depending on the level of training you are looking to obtain, you can choose one of the following EMT certifications offered by a large number of colleges and vocational institutes; CPR, First Responder, EMT-B (Basic), EMT-I/85 (lower level intermediate), EMT-I/99 (higher level intermediate), and EMT-P (Paramedic).

Once you have successfully completed one or more of the above levels or courses, you will be required to complete the Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) exam. Passing the NREMT allows you to be a nationally certified professional paramedic and obtain licensing anywhere in the United States. This paramedic certification is also recognized in areas outside the US and Canada. To maintain certification, refresher courses and re-certification are usually mandatory every two years, though some states or counties extend that requirement to every three years.

EMTs and paramedics are subject to working in all kinds of weather, environments, and emergency situations and the work performed by EMS personnel is often physically and emotionally stressful. Regardless of the level of the level of certification and the challenges of the work, the profession of an EMT is a vital one in the health care industry, as well as a rewarding career.

Become an EMT – It’s Easy and Affordable

Becoming an EMT could be one of the best career choices an individual can make, especially in a sluggish economy. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Statistics states the health care industry and related fields will see favorable employment and job security through 2020. This includes all EMS personnel which are projected to grow at a rate of 33%…. Read more of this article