What Does an Emergency Medical Technician Do?

If you're considering a career as an emergency medical technician (EMT), you're probably wondering what, exactly, an EMT does. This article will explain the career levels for emergency medical technicians and the responsibilities of EMTs at each level of training. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) recognizes three different skill levels for EMTs. An emergency medical technician begins with the title of First Responder (40 hours of training) or Basic EMT (110 training hours) and becomes an Intermediate EMT by completing 200-400 EMT training hours. The most qualified EMTs earn the title of Paramedic by completing 1,000 or more hours of training. The scope of duties at each level varies by state, but all EMTs are trained to fulfill the following job responsibilities:

  • Assess and stabilize patients' conditions
  • Manage spinal injuries, fractures, and burns
  • Deliver babies in emergency situations

Important Facts About Emergency Medical Technicians

Required Education High school diploma, or equivalent, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification
Key Skills Critical thinking, close listening, good judgment, decision making, physical stamina, social awareness, coordination
Work Environment Ambulance services, government agencies, hospitals
Similar Occupations Firefighters, physicians assistants, registered nurses, police officers, detectives, air traffic controllers

EMT: Basic

First Responders and Basic EMTs require the least training and are only able to perform basic, non-invasive life support techniques. For example, an EMT Basic may assist a patient in administering medicine that has already been prescribed to them, but they cannot perform invasive procedures like endotracheal intubation. EMT Basics are allowed to conduct the following emergency procedures:

  • Controlling bleeding
  • Administering supplemental oxygen
  • Performing CPR and automated external defibrillation

EMT: Intermediate

EMT Intermediates have increased assessment abilities and are permitted to administer around 20 different types of medicines, depending on the state in which they are licensed. EMT Intermediates can also conduct emergency medical procedures like these:

  • Beginning IV therapy
  • Performing endotracheal intubations
  • Monitoring EKGs

EMT: Paramedic

Paramedics have at least two years of training and are capable of performing a wide range of emergency medical techniques. Paramedics are typically responsible for conducting the following procedures:

  • Administering blood transfusions
  • Cleaning wounds and applying sutures
  • Interpreting lab results and X-rays

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected job growth for emergency medical technicians and paramedics was 24% from 2014-2024. The BLS reported the median annual wage for EMTs and paramedics in May 2014 was $31,700. EMTs employed by medical and diagnostic laboratories, junior colleges, and state governments made the most money in 2014, averaging more than $49,000 a year.

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