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Emergency medical technicians, more commonly known as EMTs, are often the first ones to arrive at the scene following an emergency, ranging from house fires to car accidents and everything in between. Lives are often hanging in the balance, and EMTs must act quickly to save them. The pressure might be too daunting for most, but the reality is that people’s lives depend on the speedy, competent care that EMTs and paramedics provide. EMTs and paramedics care for the sick and wounded while quickly transporting them to a nearby medical facility. EMTs and paramedics often work side by side with police officers and firefighters to provide the best all-around care in emergency situations. They typically operate in teams, with one person driving while the other continues to provide emergency care to the patient. There are three general designations, each with its own training requirements and responsibilities: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and Paramedic. EMT-Basic and EMT-Intermediate are both expected to provide on-scene care and transport the patient to a medical facility, with the latter taking on more responsibilities. Paramedics are trained to provide additional pre-hospital care, including administering medications, interpreting EKGs and operating complex equipment.
An increasing call volume due to the country’s aging population is expected to keep job prospects high for EMTs and paramedics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field to grow 23.1 percent between 2012 and 2022, adding 55, 300 more jobs.
The BLS reports the median annual salary for EMTs and paramedics was $31, 270 in 2013. The best-paid 10 percent in the profession made approximately $54, 710, while the lowest-earning 10 percent made approximately $20, 420. The best-compensated paramedics and EMTs work in the metropolitan areas of Tacoma, Washington; Seattle; and Fairbanks, Alaska.
|75th Percentile||$41, 470|
|25th Percentile||$24, 800|
A high school diploma is required to enter most formal emergency medical technician training programs. Training varies depending on the professional level desired. For EMT-Basic, training covers key emergency skills, including general patient assessment and handling patients suffering from cardiac arrest, trauma or respiratory emergencies. Classroom coursework is coupled with hands-on experience in an ambulance or emergency facility. Students become acquainted with basic equipment such as backboards, oxygen delivery systems and stretchers. At the EMT-Intermediate level, students learn all the material covered in the EMT-Basic program, with additional skills such as handling intravenous fluids and using airway devices. State education requirements vary, but the national standards mandate that students complete 30 to 350 hours of classroom and hands-on training depending on the program. Paramedics receive expanded training, with more emphasis on areas such as anatomy, physiology and advanced medical skills. Paramedic programs typically take one to two years to complete, and often result in an associate degree. Passing the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians examination is required to become a certified paramedic.
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