EMT and Paramedic Jobs in the U.S.

The need for emergency medical service (EMS) personnel has grown steadily in the last few years, and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities for EMT jobs and paramedic jobs are expected to grow at a rate "faster than average." The nation's 9/11 disaster highlighted the growing need for highly trained EMS personnel, such as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics.

The EMT and Paramedic Working Environment

When EMTs and paramedics do their jobs well, they save lives. EMTs and paramedics respond to automobile and boat accidents, heart attacks, strokes, violent assaults and natural disasters. In these emergencies, EMTs and paramedics are sent to the scene by a 9-1-1 operator.

Once at the scene, an EMT and paramedic's first mission is to assess the injuries of the involved persons. Then, following established medical guidelines, EMTs and paramedics render medical treatments based on the injured persons' needs. If the injuries are life-threatening the persons are transported to a hospital by the EMTs or paramedics.

If the patients have minor injuries, paramedics can treat them at the scene and they don't need to be transported. When providing medical care, EMTs and paramedics communicate with physicians and receive medical direction.

EMTs and paramedics work in teams. This makes it easier when placing patients on stretchers and backboards. If transporting is necessary, one EMT or paramedic will drive the ambulance while the other observes and cares for the patient in the back. EMTs and paramedics can also be part of a hospital helicopter crew which transfers accident victims of gravely ill patients quickly to trauma centers of specialized hospitals.

The specific tasks performed by EMTs and paramedics are determined by their levels of certification. Right now there are four basic levels:

  • First Responder
  • EMT-Basic
  • EMT-Intermediate
  • EMT-Paramedic

These levels can be different in different states. The higher the level of certification, the more extensive medical care can be given to injured person. By 2014, the classifications will be uniform throughout the country. The classifications will be:

  • Emergency medical responder
  • Emergency medical technician
  • Advanced emergency medical technician
  • Paramedic

Physical Demands and Risks of an EMT

EMT jobs and paramedic jobs require many physical demands, such as heavy lifting and being exposed to varying weather conditions. Since EMS care is available at all times, EMTs and paramedics are expected to work irregular hours. Individuals wanting a five day a week, 8-5 schedule should not consider being an EMT or paramedic.

In addition to the physical demands, there are the emotional demands of working in emergency situations where swift care is expected, and death and gruesome scenes are common.

EMTs and paramedics also run the chance of exposure to serious diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis-B. Some work environment injuries might include hearing loss due to loud sirens and work injuries due to heavy lifting.

Opportunities for Those Seeking Paramedic and EMT Jobs

In 2006, the BLS said that 201,000 paid EMT jobs and paramedic jobs were available in the U.S. Smaller rural areas rely on volunteer EMTs and paramedics, but the public's demand for better care is causing those volunteer positions to become paid positions.

Employers of EMTs and Paramedics

  1. Private Ambulance Services employ 40% of the total EMTs and paramedics.
  2. Local governments through fire departments or public ambulance services employ 30% of EMTs and paramedics.
  3. Hospitals employ 20% of EMTs and paramedics.
  4. The remainder of EMTs and paramedics work for various industries that provide emergency care.

Prospects for EMT and Paramedic Jobs

According to the BLS, EMT and paramedic jobs are expected to grow 19% in the next eight years. Most of the volunteer EMT jobs are being replaced by paid positions. The job opportunities and job security is greatest for those who have an advanced education, such as college degrees and higher levels of certification.

There are opportunities for advancement when EMTs or paramedics earn degrees in EMS management. Then they can move into supervisory positions.

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