Duties and responsibilities
An emergency medical technician works as part of an emergency and urgent care team. The care for patient at the scene of an incident and while taking patients by ambulance to a hospital. An EMT has the skills to assess a patient’s condition and to manage respiratory, cardiac, and trauma emergencies but cannot provide the same level of care and medication that paramedics can. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Responding to 911 calls for emergency medical assistance with paramedics
- Assessing a patient’s condition
- Providing first-aid treatment to sick or injured patients
- Transporting patients safely in an ambulance and caring for them whilst in transport
- Transferring patients to the emergency department of a hospital or other healthcare facility
EMTs must complete a high school diploma (or equivalent) and a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. After completing this, aspiring EMTs must then complete a postsecondary educational program in emergency medical technology. During these programs, EMTs learn about assessing patients’ conditions, dealing with trauma and cardiac emergencies, clearing obstructed airways, using field equipment, and handling emergencies. Formal courses include about 150 hours of specialized instruction, and some instruction may take place in a hospital or ambulance setting.
Most of these programs last a year, but some may last two. These programs are offered as technical institutes, community colleges, universities and facilities that specialize in emergency care training. To find out which programs are accredited, check out the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as the genuine passion for helping and caring for others, EMT’s will need skills such as:
- Empathy, as EMTs will need to be compassionate and understanding to patients who are in a great deal of pain and distress
- Physical stamina, as EMTs need to keep up with the demands of the job, which involves bending, lifting patients and kneeling
- Listening skills, as EMTs will need to listen carefully to their patients to determine the extent of their injury. They will also need to listen carefully to paramedics to ensure they provide the correct care
- Teamwork skills as EMTS will works as part of a small and cohesive team with paramedics
- Interpersonal skills, as EMTs need to coordinate and work with others and patients
Most EMTs work full time, with some working more than 40 hours per week. They may work overnight and on weekends and some EMTs will work shifts in 12- or 24-hour increments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for EMTs in the United States was $35,400 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,490 per year, and the highest 10 percent earning more than $59,860 per yea0.
EMTs can progress to becoming advanced EMTs. To do so they must complete the requirements for the EMT level, as well as instruction in more advanced medical procedures (e.g., administering intravenous fluids). After this, EMTs can progress to become paramedics, who can provide more extensive prehospital care. To become a paramedic, EMTs must complete a paramedical educational program.