EMT Job Description
Emergency Medical Technicians, or EMTs, provide critical care in an emergency setting. The scope of the duties performed by an EMT depends upon their experience and certification levels. Those with the basic EMT certification can only perform non-invasive procedures such as controlling bleeding, performing CPR and administering oxygen. Those with the intermediate EMT certification can perform more advanced procedures, such as inserting IVs and monitoring EKGs, and can administer roughly 20 different commonly used medications. The role of EMT is not a profession for those who want a traditional work environment. It involves working long shifts under constant stress, but it provides the reward of being able to save lives.
The role of EMT is an entry-level position, and they typically work under the supervision of a Paramedic. They are typically employed by both public and private ambulance organizations. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for EMTs is set to rise 24 percent through 2024. It is a profession that is essentially recession-proof.
EMT Duties and Responsibilities
Providing critical care involves a variety of duties and responsibilities. We researched dozens of EMT job descriptions to create the following list of the most common EMT duties and responsibilities.
Transportation of Patients
EMTs are responsible for the tasks involved with transporting patients to the hospital. This includes driving the ambulance, as well as using backboards and straps to secure patients in the back of the ambulance. It also includes transporting patients to the emergency room.
Accident Scene Assessment
EMTs are the first responders on the scene of an accident. It is their responsibility to immediately assess the safety level of the situation and determine if any special rescue tools need to be requested. They also assess the severity of injuries of those involved, and document all of this information in a report.
Assessment and Stabilization of Patient Vitals
Once EMTs assess a scene, the next responsibility is to asses the status of the patient. EMTs with the intermediate certification are the ones responsible for performing the tasks necessary to stabilize patients, while those with a basic certification assist in performing non-invasive procedures.
Creation and Documentation of Patient Care Reports
EMTs have to have good writing skills, as one of their responsibilities is creating a patient care report for each patient they handle. Hospital staff uses these reports to help care for patients efficiently.
Administration of Basic Health Procedures
This includes things like bandaging wounds, administering basic medication, inserting IVs and related tasks. The tasks an EMT can perform depends on their level of certification.
Emergency Medical Technician ( EMT ) Skills
The role of EMT is not a traditional position. It is a fast-paced position that requires people who can work long shifts without sacrificing focus. It takes a person who is disciplined and organized to succeed as an EMT. One has to know basic medical equipment and procedures, as well as a passion for making a difference. It takes compassion and interpersonal skills to keep patients calm as they are transported to the hospital. The following is a list of skills most employers want in EMT candidates.
- Immobilizing and splinting injured limbs
- Managing cardiac arrest situations by administering CPR
- Controlling bleeding through the use of standard wound treatment procedure
- Managing patient shock through the use of shock management techniques
- Clearing patient airways and administering oxygen
Tools of the Trade
There are many different tools used by those in a medical profession. Here are a few tools EMTs use most.
- IVs – EMTs use IVs to administer fluids and medication to patients
- Backboards and Straps – EMTs use backboards and straps to immobilize patients in the back of the ambulance
- Gauze, Bandage and Tourniquets – EMTs use these items to control patient bleeding
Emergency Medical Technician ( EMT ) Education and Training
There are three levels of EMT training. Keep in mind that all levels require CPR certification, and all certifications must be renewed every three years through continuing education courses.
The first level is EMT-basic. This takes several weeks to complete and covers material like standard hospital procedures and basic emergency care. It also familiarizes students with the various instruments EMTs use daily, which takes place during the required clinical experience in the back of an ambulance. Usually, 110 hours of experience is required.
The second level is EMT-intermediate and is available to those with the EMT-basic certification. Courses in anatomy and physiology, advanced emergency care and biology are the standard. This level of certification can take anywhere between 30 and 350 hours of professional experience, depending on state requirements.
The third and final level is Paramedic. It is sometimes offered as an Associate degree program and includes coursework in anatomy and physiology, biology and chemistry. It includes certifications such as Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support. Over 1,000 hours of experience is required for this certification.
The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians is the organization that certifies EMTs at all three levels.
Emergency Medical Technician ( EMT ) Salary
According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for EMTs is $32,670. Those in the bottom 10 percent earn less than $21,240, and those in the top 10 percent earn more than $56,310.
Emergency Medical Technician ( EMT ) Resources
Becoming an EMT is a great way to break into the medical profession. If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to be an EMT, check out the list of resources below.
National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians – The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians was founded in 1975 and now boasts over 50,000 members around the country. Their website has tons of resources for members and non-members alike, including discounted supplies, video training courses and articles by dozens of industry experts. It also has a dedicated job board for members.
International Association of EMTs and Paramedics – The International Association of EMTs and Paramedics is a union with over 10,000 members. Their mission is to ensure fair wages and working conditions for all members, as well as to provide continuing professional development.
Everyday EMS Tips – Greg Friese, a paramedic and marathon runner from Wisconsin, started this blog back in 2009. He updates daily with a short article covering all types of topics related to EMS. It is a great read for aspiring EMTs.
StreetWatch: Notes of a Paramedic – This blog is updated once every couple of weeks with articles based on real experiences of Paramedics. This is an excellent blog to read for aspiring EMTs, as many go on to become Paramedics.
EMS World – EMS World is a great online publication that targets all types of emergency medical service professionals. It is updated daily with several articles covering the entire spectrum of industry topics.
Emergency Care ( 13th Edition ) by Daniel Limmer, et. all – This textbook has been the industry standard for Emergency Medical Technicians. The 13th edition is updated with all of the latest industry research and breakthroughs, as well as still covering all of the basics.
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