What Do EMTs and Paramedics Do?
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics (EMTs with advanced training to perform more difficult pre-hospital medical procedures) provide vital care and attention at the scene of an emergency. In an emergency, EMTs and paramedics are dispatched to the scene usually by a 911 operator and often work with police and fire department personnel. Once they arrive, they determine the nature and extent of a person’s condition and administer appropriate level of care.
People’s lives often depend on the quick reactions of and competent care by EMTs and paramedics. EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls, assess injuries, sometimes free trapped individuals or remove them from danger, and administer emergency medical care. They also transport injured or sick persons to medical facilities, typically providing additional medical care in route.
At a medical facility, EMTs and paramedics help transfer patients to the emergency department, report their observations and actions to emergency room staff, and may provide additional emergency treatment as needed. For more information, go to: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/emts-and-paramedics.htm#tab-1.
Beyond these general duties, the specific responsibilities of EMTs and paramedics depend on their qualification and training. The levels of training include:
- Certified First Responders
- Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
- Advanced EMTs (AEMTs)
Certified First Responders are trained to perform patient assessments and give basic emergency medical care and provide necessary life-saving treatment until an ambulance arrives with more highly trained personnel. Many firefighters, police officers, and other first responders have this level of training.
EMTs are trained to care for patients at the scene of an accident and while transporting patients by ambulance to the hospital. EMTs have the emergency skills to assess a patient’s condition and manage respiratory, cardiac, and trauma emergencies.
AEMTs receive additional training to administer emergency medical care providing advanced life support care involving skills-management techniques (i.e., advanced airway management), administration of intravenous fluids, Electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring and interpretation, medication administration, manual defibrillation, and transportation to a hospital. In New York, there are three levels of AEMTs: Intermediate, Critical Care, and Paramedic.
Paramedics provide the most extensive pre-hospital care. In addition to carrying out all the procedures described above, paramedics are responsible for stabilizing patients during a medical emergency, preparing them for transfer to a hospital, if necessary, and for providing medical care in route to a hospital. Paramedics may administer drugs (including narcotics) orally and intravenously, interpret ECGs, perform tracheotomies, and use various monitors and other complex equipment.
Where Do EMTs and Paramedics Work?
EMTs and paramedics work from ambulances and other emergency vehicles, and indoors and outdoors in an array of settings and in all types of weather. Their work is physically strenuous and can be stressful, sometimes involving life-or-death situations and patients who are suffering.
Most EMTs and paramedics work full time. Because EMTs and paramedics must be available to work during emergencies, they may work overnight, on weekends, and/or remain on call for extended periods of time. Some EMTs and paramedics are volunteers and have varied work schedules.
What Do EMTs and Paramedics Earn?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the New York median annual income for paid EMTs and paramedics was $37,640, higher than the national median annual income for EMTs and paramedics of $32,670.
Supply and Demand
Between 2014 and 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the total number of EMTs and paramedics jobs nationwide will increase by 24.2%, and by 29.1% in New York.
As population and urbanization increase, emergencies such as car crashes, natural disasters, and violence will continue to create demand for EMTs and paramedics. There will also continue to be demand for part-time, volunteer EMTs and paramedics in rural areas and smaller metropolitan areas.
Growth in the middle-age and elderly population from the large cohort of aging baby boomers will likely lead to an increase in the number of age-related health emergencies, such as heart attacks or strokes. The potential for more of these types of medical emergencies also points to continued growing demand for EMTs and paramedics.
For more information on the need for EMTs and paramedics by New York State labor regions, click here.
New York Education and Certification Requirements
EMTs are certified by the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in New York, which is a part of the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). There is a reciprocity certification process for those trained in other states or through the military. To be a certified as a certified first responder, you must be 16 by the end of the month the exam is taken. To be a certified as an EMT or AEMT, you must be 18 by the end of the month the exam is taken.
Formal training and certification is required through course sponsors approved by NYSDOH. More advanced types of EMTs, namely paramedics, complete more training. Some programs may offer an associate degree along with the formal EMT training. Advanced placement is available for health care professionals based on the individual’s level of training and the ability to test out of specific training requirements. For a list of EMS course sponsors, click here; or for a list of EMS program agencies, click here.
Candidates for EMT and paramedic certification in New York must pass both written and skills performance state examinations from an approved New York State program. To maintain certification in New York, EMTs and paramedics must reregister every three years. For more information on the certification process, please visit: http://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/ems/
Education Programs in New York
For more information about EMT and paramedic education and training programs and courses in New York, go to: http://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/ems/training.htm
Additional Web Links
For more information on EMTs and paramedics, go to:
National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians: http://www.naemt.org/
National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians: https://www.nremt.org/rwd/public/
Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS professions: http://www.coaemsp.org/