What Are the Job Duties of an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)?

An emergency medical technician (EMT) travels to the scene of an emergency and provides initial on-site assessments, basic medical care, and transportation of patients for advanced medical treatment. Read on for a more in-depth look at the job duties and training required of EMTs. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

EMT Job Description

An emergency medical technician, or EMT, is a first responder to a medical emergency. Your job duties as an EMT can depend on your level of training and experience, as well as state regulations. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) offers certification at five levels, and each level involves additional training in order to perform a greater variety of medical treatments (www.nremt.org). The most common levels of training for EMTs are EMT - Basic, EMT - Intermediate, and EMT - Paramedic (commonly called paramedics). The NREMT also certifies EMRs (emergency medical responders) and advanced EMTs, although these levels of certification are not recognized in all states.

EMTs are responsible for rushing to the scene of crisis and can perform basic life-saving techniques, including:

  • Patient assessment
  • Burn management
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Emergency birth assistance
  • Extrication of patients from dangerous situations

Important Facts About EMTs

Median Salary (2018) $34,320 (EMTs and paramedics)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% (EMTs and paramedics)*
Key Skills Critical thinking, service oriented, social awareness, excellent oration, proficient reading and writing ability, monitoring, science background
Similar Occupations Firefighters, physicians' assistants, police officers, detectives, registered nurses

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

EMT Responsibilities by Level of Certification

Emergency Medical Technician - Basic (EMT - B)

EMTs - Basic have the fewest job duties of all EMTs because their training is most limited. As an EMT - B, you can provide beginning, non-invasive emergency care and give life support under the supervision of an EMT - Intermediate or paramedic. Some common medical treatments that you might perform include:

  • Controlling bleeding
  • Bandaging injuries
  • Splinting broken bones
  • Using automated external defibrillators (AEDs)

Emergency Medical Technician - Intermediate (EMT - I)

EMTs - Intermediate have more extensive job duties than EMTs - Basic, but their responsibilities vary greatly by location. Depending on your state of residence, you may be able to provide patients with a limited amount of medication. In general, you are trained for expanded responsibilities that include:

  • Cardiac monitoring
  • Administering IV treatment
  • Performing advanced airway techniques

Emergency Medical Technician - Paramedic (paramedic)

Paramedics hold the most training and the greatest number of job duties. As a paramedic, you'll be trained to give advanced life support, and usually you can provide a greater number of medications. You'll also perform the same job duties as other types of EMTs, but your advanced training can allow you to perform these additional duties:

  • Evaluating medical records
  • Providing blood transfusions
  • Performing nasogastric intubation

Education and Certification Requirements

Most states require you to complete a certificate program in emergency medical technician training in order to qualify for state or national certification exams. Many community colleges also offer associate's degree programs at the paramedic level. In general, basic and intermediate emergency medical technician training can be completed in six months, while paramedic training may take one to two years to complete, depending on whether you choose to earn a certificate or an associate's degree.

Every state requires emergency medical technicians to be licensed in order to practice. Some states also require you to complete certification through the NREMT, in addition to state board certification. State licensing exams typically consist of a written portion and a skills test. Once licensed, you'll need to earn continuing education credits to maintain your credentials.

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