An EMT (emergency medical technician) also sometimes referred to as an ambulance technician is a healthcare provider that operates out of an ambulatory mobile vehicle and has received non invasive medical training in order to provide immediate off site care to patients suffering from injuries, illnesses and/or disorders.
EMT’s are trained to respond quickly to accidents and emergencies, and are able to arrive at the scene of an incident within a relatively short amount of time allowing them to perform life saving care for their patients while they are being transported to a nearby healthcare facility where they’ll receive additional medical treatment.
These medical providers can be seen working alongside registered nurses, practitioners and physicians, and can be found working in a variety of settings such as hospitals, fire departments, public / private ambulatory services and various government organizations.
Prior to beginning EMT training candidates must possess a Diploma, G.E.D. or equivalent and be of age, which is generally 18 years old.
Some programs may also require candidates to earn their CPR certification and/or take an introductory EMT course prior to beginning the program.
During the training program EMT’s will learn:
- Ambulatory care practices
- Basic onsite care
- CPR & AED training
- Cardiac emergency care
- Emergency pediatric care
- Patient stabilization & transport techniques
- Patient assessment
- Splint and Bandage training
- Spinal mobilization
- Trauma & injury treatment
And a variety of other medical related practices.
Overall the EMT program may take 8 – 12 weeks to complete depending on the state the program is being taken and the programs curriculum.
Upon completion of the program students will be required to take and pass a state exam before earning their certification.
Once an individual completes their training and becomes an EMT they will be required to take regular continuing education courses (CEU’s) in order to maintain their certification and continue working as an EMT.
For those interested in advancement in their career there are several levels of EMT training that will lead to higher levels of certification, responsibility and leadership.
These levels are basic EMT (EMT1 – basic EMT), intermediate EMT (EMT2 – EMT3) and Paramedic (EMT4).
Highly trained EMT’s may also choose to take on roles outside of direct EMT care such as becoming a supervisor, director or educator.
Being an EMT requires a lot more than a great training and educational background.
In addition to training students must also be physically, mentally and emotionally capable of handling the day to day tasks of an EMT.
Lifting and handling patients as well as coping with patients who are under a lot of emotional stress is a common part of the work and EMT’s must be prepared to handle these situations with care and professionalism.
EMT’s must also be ready, willing and capable of working in a wide range of environments such as hot, cold, snowy, rainy or stormy weather and in cramped or uncomfortable spaces.
How to find a good program
EMT programs can be found offered at community colleges, technical schools and vocational schools as well as healthcare centers such as hospitals and government entities like fire departments.
Those interested in becoming EMT’s should look for an accredited facility that has been vetted by an organization such as the CAAHEP.
Candidates may also look for programs offered at trusted colleges or those offered by fire departments and hospitals.
Once a few programs have been narrowed down ask the program organizers about additional resources offered by the institution as well as the average success rate of students who participate in the program and look to see if there are any online resources to confirm your findings as this can help ensure that you attend a program with a good track record.
Lastly, determine the options that are available to you for paying for the program.
See if the program offers financial aid, scholarships / grants, student loans or a work-study program and go over your choices to decide what opportunities are best for you.
Program cost factors to consider
The EMT / paramedic programs have a number of associated costs that you should keep in mind when looking for a program to participate in.
Some of these costs may include:
- Program cost
- Uniform & Supplies
- NCLEX-PN exam
As mentioned earlier you should look into the financial options available to you in order to make your transition into an EMT as easy as possible.
The importance of EMT’s in healthcare
EMT’s save thousands of lives each year and play a vital role in patient healthcare.
They provide life saving care to patients in need of immediate emergency support so that they can receive necessary treatment until the patient is able to reach a healthcare facility where they can receive additional medical care with a full medical staff and proper medical equipment.
Because EMT’s are highly mobile they are able to quickly react to traumas, hazards and other emergencies through a transport vehicle such as an ambulance and are able to provide pre-hospital medical care to onsite locations where they are needed.
EMT’s can perform simple tasks such as applying splinting and bandages, performing basic CPR and transporting patients via a stretcher to more complicated paramedic tasks such as providing advanced cardiac support, performing emergency childbirth procedures, administering medication and giving intravenous treatments to patients.
While EMT’s are known for their heroics in emergency situations they can also provide a range of non life threatening care that can include assisting patients with with broken limbs, providing additional support to individuals suffering from allergic reactions and tending to people dealing with less severe illnesses or diseases.
By gathering patient information, performing pre-hospital care and monitoring patient vital signs EMT’s act as a liaison between the patient and the healthcare center the patient is being taken to, and provide additional information to the registered nurses, physicians and doctors who will be caring for the patient so that they can receive immediate care allowing medical professionals to quickly determine the best treatment plan for the patient.
EMT’s operate under a variety of circumstances from environmental situations such as harsh weather and disasters to direct human related medical emergencies such as vehicular accidents, traumas and diseases.
Without sufficient EMT training and staffing thousands of people each year would go without emergency life saving medical care.
EMT’s ensure that that patients make it to a hospital or healthcare center so that they can recover from these devastating events, and eventually return to their daily life.
These healthcare providers are an essential part of any healthy healthcare system and their expert training, discipline and medical care has given many individuals a second chance at life.