Paramedic Job Description
When people call 911 to report a medical emergency, paramedics are dispatched to provide care for the sick or injured and transport them to a hospital or other medical facility. On the scene of an emergency, paramedics often work very closely with police and firefighters.
In most areas, paramedic services are provided by independent ambulance services. In other areas, they are provided by the hospitals or the local government. In rural areas, paramedics often work on a volunteer basis.
Because paramedics deal with so many people who are suffering from a serious injury or loss of life, this can be an emotionally draining occupation. Seeing people in pain can be difficult, but it can also be extremely rewarding when paramedics are able to save a life.
This can be a physically dangerous occupation as well. Muscles strains from lifting or moving patients are common. Additionally, paramedics are often exposed to contagious diseases, and may have to deal with patients who are emotionally unstable. Following established safety procedures can help reduce the risk of injury, but it’s impossible to prevent altogether.
The majority of paramedics work full time, and overtime is very common. Because emergency situations can happen at any time of day or night, paramedics have to be available to work on nights, weekends, and holidays.
Since the schedule is so demanding, you should consider the impact that it will have on your personal life as you consider a career in this field. Some people thrive in this type of schedule, but it’s definitely not a job for everyone.
How to Become a Paramedic
Community colleges and technical schools offer training courses that prepare students for a career as a paramedic. These programs normally take two years to complete. At graduation, graduates earn an associate’s degree and are ready to take the licensing exam.
All states require paramedics to be licensed. The licensing requirements vary from state to state, but normally include completing a certified training program (covered by the associate’s degree) and passing a written and practical exam.
The licensing exam is administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. You can learn more about licensing on their website.
To become a paramedic, you will have to complete both EMT-Basic level training, and Advanced EMT level training. These training courses are offered by the community and technical colleges who offer degrees in the field.
EMT-Basic level training teaches students the basics of emergency medical technician training. In these programs, students learn how to use field equipment, deal with emergencies, and assess the physical and emotional condition of patients. Parts of this training program occur in an ambulance or hospital.
Advanced EMT training requires 1,000 hours of training, and is much more intensive than the basic level training. Students learn how to administer intravenous fluids and medications, stitch wounds, read an EKG, use advanced medical equipment, and treat more severe trauma.
If you want to drive an ambulance, you will need to take a separate training course. These courses are normally only about a day long, and are pretty simple to complete.
There are currently 226,500 paramedics in the United States, with 12,080 new paramedic job openings created each year.
Paramedic jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Paramedic salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most paramedics make between $24,400 – $40,400 per year, or $11.74 – $19.44 per hour.