This year, May 17-23 has been designated as EMS Appreciation week, a time for us to pause and celebrate EMS, its practitioners, and the important work they do in responding to various medical emergencies. EMS Appreciation Week originated in 1973 with President Gerald Ford to not only honor these first responders but also shed light on the critical role they play in emergency medical services as well as serving as a public safety net. Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians are those that come to mind most often when we think about EMS professionals, however, during EMS Appreciation week, we salute and give thanks to all those who play a role in keeping us safe and providing quality care in emergency situations.
What do EMS professionals do?
Those working in EMS provide vital medical care to patients in emergency medical situations. This includes but is not limited to responding to emergency calls, assessing patients, performing medical services, and transporting patients to medical facilities for additional treatment. We rely on EMS professionals to respond quickly to medical emergencies while providing superior care to patients. EMS professionals may work in a variety of settings such as an ambulance company, a fire station, or even a hospital.
It’s also important to note the difference between EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) and Paramedics. Both play important roles and are vital to the EMS team, but they differ in the duties they perform and the training they have received. It’s also important to note that the specific tasks and duties EMTs and Paramedics are allowed to perform vary by state. Generally, Emergency Medical Technicians or EMTs (also often referred to as an EMT-Basic), care for patients at the scene of an emergency and assist in transporting the patient to the hospital or medical facility. An EMT-Basic is charged with and has the skills to assess the patient’s condition as well as manage cardiac, respiratory, and trauma emergencies. Paramedics most often provide patient care prior to arriving at the hospital and/or medical facility. In addition, Paramedics can give medications (orally and intravenously), read and interpret EKGs, utilize other equipment at the scene of an emergency, and carry out the duties and functions that an EMT could perform.
Beginning a career in EMS
Working in the EMS field can be physically strenuous and stressful, however, it can also be very rewarding. Those who work in the field enjoy having a career in healthcare that allows them to make a notable difference in the lives of others. As cliché as it may sound, many have also cited that becoming an EMS professional allows them to feel like a “hero” of sorts because they are the first responders in situations of life and death for their patients – whether that’s the adrenaline talking or not, no one can argue that EMS professionals ARE heroes and play a tremendously important role in our healthcare system today.
For those considering a career as an EMT or a Paramedic, most post-secondary training programs require you to have a High School Diploma (or GED) and be certified in CPR. Many EMT programs can be completed in less than a year. For those wishing to become a Paramedic, the training is more extensive. First, someone must complete an EMT program/course/class. They must then go on to pursue their training to become a Paramedic. This training usually takes one year, but in some cases, may require an individual to obtain additional training.
EMTs and Paramedics must be licensed by the state in order to obtain employment. Requirements also vary by state, so it’s important that you do your research in advance to determine the requirements you’ll be required to fulfill in order to pursue licensure. In addition, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians is the agency that certifies EMTs and Paramedics. NREMT certification can be achieved by those who have completed an approved training program and have passed a national exam (containing both written and practical sections).
There are many important qualities that an EMS professional may possess. Since these positions can be strenuous, it’s important that these professionals have the ability to do a significant amount of bending, lifting and kneeling while on the job. In addition, EMS professionals should have good problem solving skills and be able to “think on their feet.” Many times, EMTs and Paramedics are the first responders in emergency situations, so the way they respond can be the difference between life and death for a patient. Last but certainly not least, since EMTs and Paramedics work with patients often, it’s important that they possess good communication skills, including compassion, speaking, listening, and interpersonal skills. EMTs and Paramedics must be able to listen to patients to better understand the extent of their medical needs, they need to be able to speak clearly so patients understand procedures, they often provide emotional support to patients in emergency situations, and since EMTs and Paramedics often work in teams, they must be able to work collaboratively with each other in challenging situations.
Career Outlook for EMTs and Paramedics
According to the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistic Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics is projected to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics goes on to explain that emergencies, such as car crashes, natural disasters, or acts of violence, can be identified as contributors to the demand for EMTs and paramedics. There is also a continued need for part-time, volunteer EMTs and paramedics in rural areas and smaller metropolitan areas.*
Taking the Next Step
For those ready to take the next step and begin training for an exciting new career as an EMT or a Paramedic, Dorsey Schools is here to help! Superior Medical Education (located in Madison Heights, MI) and Michigan Academy of Emergency Services and Allied Health (with campuses located in New Boston, MI and Jackson, MI), are Divisions of Dorsey Schools and have been trusted names in providing quality training to future EMTs and Paramedics. Both Superior Medical Education and Michigan Academy of Emergency Services and Allied Health offer EMT-Basic and Paramedic training programs. The classes and courses in both programs are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed by EMS professionals. The dedicated instructors and staff are committed to helping students make the most of their training while helping them on the path to an exciting and rewarding new career. If you’re ready to make a change, the teams at Superior Medical Education and Michigan Academy of Emergency Services and Allied Health are ready to hear from you. To learn more about Superior Medical Education, you may visit them online at www.superiormedicaleducation.com or call 888-529-4197. To learn more about Michigan Academy of Emergency Services and Allied Health, you may visit them online at www.maesah.com or call 888-469-1401.
*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, EMTs and Paramedics, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/emts-and-paramedics.htm (visited May 20, 2015).