An emergency medical technician is a trained responder who provides emergency care for injured or sick people and makes sure that they are transported to the nearest hospital or medical facility in the shortest time and the best conditions possible. Emergency medical technicians usually work in pairs, but they may sometimes be assisted by police officers of firemen, if the situation calls for it. During transportation to the hospital, the EMTs must remain in permanent contact with the medical team at the hospital where they are taking the patient, in order to be able to receive special instructions from that team, should the case be such. The permanent contact that the emergency medical technician keeps with the health care team also serves the purpose of allowing the hospital to prepare for the arrival of that sick or injured person.
One of the most important responsibilities of an emergency medical technician is patient assessment. This is very important, as proper treatment can only be provided after the extent and nature of the patient’s injuries has been determined. Moreover, there are some conditions, such as diabetes or epilepsy, which must be considered when giving treatment, because patients with such preexisting illnesses need special care. Some of the basic procedures that an emergency medical technician is trained to perform include opening airways and restoring breathing, treating for shock, controlling bleeding, administering oxygen and epinephrine, assisting in emergency childbirth, or using an external defibrillator in order to treat heart attack victims.
Other responsibilities that an emergency medical technician has include replacing the ambulance supplies after each run, and checking the equipment. If they have had a patient with a contagious disease, it’s also their responsibility to decontaminate the ambulance in order to prevent the disease from spreading to other patients.
An emergency medical technician should be an emotionally stable person, with good dexterity and physical coordination. Reacting quickly and remaining calm in emergency situations are also required on the part of the emergency medical technician.
As far as the EMT’s work environment is concerned, those wishing to become an emergency medical technician should know that they will work both outside and inside, and that most of their time will be spent standing, lifting, bending or kneeling. Exposure to contagious diseases is also possible, as well as exposure to violence from some of the victims, such as those with a drug overdose. An emergency medical technician will be faced with life-and-death situations on a daily basis, so you could say that the work is very stressful, yet rewarding.
In order to become an emergency medical technician, training and certification are required. A high school diploma is a must when entering an EMT training program. EMT training is offered at four progressive levels, EMT 1 to 4, or EMT Basic (1), EMT Intermediate (2 and 3) and EMT Paramedic (4). The skills that the caregiver learns are more advanced with each level of EMT training. Entry of a certain level requires completion and certification for the previous levels, except of course for the EMT Basic level, where all you need is the high school diploma.
EMT training takes place both in class and in the ambulance or emergency room, so that the student is fully prepared for the situations that an emergency medical technician is faced with in real world.