Becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT) means being a very special kind of person. The job involves dealing with all kinds of medical emergencies. One day you may assist in delivering a baby, the next you may be dealing with somebody in cardiac arrest, a road accident or a shooting.
The right personality is one of the most important aspects of becoming an EMT. People who become upset easily, panic or get flustered are no use in emergency situations. The job can also involve heavy lifting so its essential that you are fit, healthy and agile. Working hours can also be erratic and an EMT will be out in all kinds of weather day or night.
The basic requirement for taking the basic EMT training course is a GED or high school diploma. The training course will teach the student vital life saving techniques and how to respond calmly and effectively in diverse emergency situations. The basic EMT training course can be done in one semester.
Once a 911 call is placed and the operator ascertains that there is a medical emergency the EMT will arrive along with police and the fire service. The first thing an EMT will do is assess injuries, try to ascertain if the injured person has any pre-existing conditions or is taking any kind of medication, illegal drugs or is intoxicated. The next task is to stabilize the patient, and provide immediate care during transportation to a hospital. They also liaise and work closely with law enforcement and firefighters.
Part of basic EMT training also involves learning how to use gurneys, stretchers and backboards so the patient can be safely immobilized for transportation. While one emergency medical technician drives, the other will be keeping the patients vital signs monitored and offering any other assistance and care that may be necessary.
When the patient is delivered to the hospital the EMT gives his observations to the receiving medical staff.
The EMT works within a team and is also responsible for restocking, sanitizing and, if necessary, decontaminating his vehicle.
The next step up from being a basic EMT is taking advanced certification, possibly with a view to becoming a paramedic. Requirements vary widely by state but all qualifications and training comes from a National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians which offers five different levels of certification, although some states use their own certification systems and use different names for each level.
Under the NREMT these levels are
Intermediate EMT 1985
Intermediate EMT 1999
At the intermediate EMT level students learn more advanced skills such as setting up and administering intravenous fluids, giving certain medications and using tracheal devices. Again each state varies in what it allows an intermediate EMT to do.
Becoming a paramedic typically takes between 1 to 2 years. Training is received in general anatomy and physiology and the student paramedic learns advanced medical techniques.
If youre interested in becoming an emergency medical technician, courses are offered at many community colleges and technical schools with continuing education classes for all levels of EMT and paramedic certification.