An EMT or emergency medical technician/ambulance technician is a trained clinician that operates as part of an emergency medical service and provides emergency care to patients who are experiencing a trauma, severe injury or illness that requires immediate emergency care.
These healthcare providers may be found working in a variety of settings outside of an emergency care facility such as at a patients home or workplace, a public environment or at the scene of an accident or disaster.
Rather than working in a hospital or healthcare center EMT’s often perform their duties out of an ambulance, which allows them to remain mobile and arrive at the scene of an emergency.
EMT’s may perform a variety of non-invasive treatments to assist their patients and improve or stabilize their condition until they reach the emergency care facility.
Some of the treatments they perform may include applying splints, performing basic airway management treatment, providing CPR & AED to non-responsive patients, administering basic medications and checking/monitoring vitals.
In order to make sure patients receive proper treatment EMT’s may operate alongside paramedics and physicians to provide offsite care during emergency calls and work together with registered nurses, physicians and other medical staff at an emergency care facility to provide patients with sufficient all around medical care from the time they arrive at the scene till the patient reaches the hospital or healthcare center.
EMT’s may also act as a liaison between the patient and the healthcare facility staff to ensure they are up to date on the patients condition, the cause of the condition and the treatment the patient received until they reached the facility along with any other pertinent information that may by useful for the patients recovery.
What do EMT’s do?
EMT’s provide offsite emergency care to patients who are suffering from a trauma or medical emergency.
In many cases EMT’s will assess a patients condition and perform a variety of medical treatments based on the injury or illness the patient is dealing with.
Some of the most common medical treatments may include:
- Applying splints
- Performing basic airway management treatment
- Performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
- Using AED’s (automated external defibrillators)
- Administering basic medications (aspirin, glucose etc..)
- Monitoring patient vital signs
EMT’s are generally dispatched by emergency operators over the radio and will respond to nearby situations when they are closest to the scene of the emergency.
Because emergencies can happen at any time EMT’s work morning, evening and night shifts at hospitals, emergency care facilities and fire departments.
EMT’s typically work 12 – 24 hour shifts several days a week and may sleep at their work facility during overnight shifts.
Those who aspire to take on larger responsibilities and advance in their career may choose to continue their education and become advanced emergency medical technicians (AEMT) or certified paramedics.
Preparation for these positions require significantly more training and education, however individuals who advance in their career are able to perform advanced medical procedures, lead or supervise other members of the group and receive work related benefits such as earning a higher income.
As stated earlier EMT’s generally operate out of an ambulance, which is fully stocked with emergency medical equipment and gear for onsite patient treatment, however those who become paramedics may also operate out of a helicopter or on a large cruise ship.
The importance of having EMT’s
EMT’s are an important part of the healthcare system and respond to many thousands of dispatch calls each year.
In many cases these these trained clinicians work as volunteers at hospitals, healthcare centers and fire departments alongside other trained professionals in order to save the lives of those around them.
EMT’s act as intermediaries for patients who are dealing with medical emergencies.
They provide off site life saving emergency care and transport patients to healthcare facilities where they can receive adequate medical attention.
These medical providers ensure that patients who aren’t able to reach a medical facility on their own get the treatment they need in order to survive.
In fact EMT’s are responsible for saving thousands of lives a year by resolving the medical emergency or prolonging a patients life until they can get the treatment they need at a nearby hospital.
Without EMT’s it would be much more difficult for individuals in their home, work or public setting to receive professional medical care when it is needed the most, and by having a mobile medical team that works 24/7, is stationed in and around local neighborhoods and businesses, and has an ambulance stacked full of life saving medical equipment EMT’s can bring pre-hospital care to wherever there’s an emergency.
Becoming an EMT
Those interested in receiving EMT training are required to possess a diploma, G.E.D.or equivalent prior to entering the EMT program.
Beginner EMT courses can be competed in as little as 3 weeks in an accelerated program, however those who join a regular program or attend part-time can expect the program to last as long as 12 weeks.
During the program students will learn how to assess medical situations, perform basic airway management, conduct CPR, operate AED’s, apply splints and monitor patient vital signs among other forms of basic non-invasive care.
Students must also complete scheduled clinical training prior to receiving their certification.
Students who complete all of their EMT training must then take and pass a mandatory state licensure exam in order to gain approval and operate as an emergency medical technician.
After becoming an EMT individuals may choose to advance their career as one of several ambulatory medical providers.
These advanced positions include:
- EMT-I or EMT-intermediate
- AEMT or advanced emergency medical technician
Each of these roles requires additional training and certification, however they also offer greater opportunities for career advancement, increased salaries and the ability to improve their own knowledge and work capabilities.
In addition to increased career opportunities those who advance to a paramedic role may also be able to work in a variety of settings including becoming a flight paramedic and working on a large boat or cruise ship.