Male EMS professional using a portable radio

11 Tips for Success as an EMT

Be the Best EMT you can be

Male EMS professional using a portable radio

Whether you’re just considering a career in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), recently started your training, or already saving lives in the field, you may benefit from some essential tips for success as an Emergency Medical Technician or EMT. This article highlights 11 helpful tips for EMTs from various EMS experts.

If you’re an EMS professional or student, we know you have a busy schedule, so we’ve compiled a short list of key concepts and advice. Some tips are more relevant to EMT rookies, while others are more helpful to experienced EMTs. However, whether you are a first-day rookie or a seasoned veteran, a quick review of all these tips and tricks can help empower your success as an EMS professional.

Key Tips for EMT Success

1. Always remember your equipment: You don’t want to learn this basic idea the hard way. Your most critical equipment should always be grouped, organized, and with you. Mistakes happen, but having a routine can help reduce the chance of mistakes, such as leaving behind valuable equipment. Furthermore, keep your gear simple by not adding items you’ll most likely never use. The essential kit is very versatile. There is little you can’t accomplish with a pen, scissors, and a flashlight.

2. Evaluate the big picture first: Once you arrive on the scene, there is one thing you need to do first and foremost—evaluate and understand the situation. Especially as a rookie EMT or an EMT beginner, you must know what you are doing before you do it. The most common cause for a misguided response strategy stems from the first moments on the scene. If the key decision maker is rushing to solve a problem before understanding it, more problems may arise. The mark of a true veteran is the ability to stop and collect as much information as possible before jumping into action.

3. Take notes and be consistent: Taking notes and compiling substantial adequate documentation can go a long way. Better documentation lends toward a more thorough understanding. Begin comprehensive documentation early in your training, and you may reap significant rewards down the road. Write everything down, and document the condition of the patient, the treatments provided, and the patient’s response. Good notes can also be used for research, quality improvement, and reimbursement. Be consistentwith consistency comes familiarity. Without consistency, there is room for misunderstanding and chaos. Don’t change anything with your documentation because the situation is different. The more consistent you can be, the less likely you are to miss something.

4. Begin with the basics: Once you have arrived at the scene and taken the time to assess the situation, you’ll start getting to it. It almost goes without saying, but it’s essential to remember your basics. Don’t forget your ABCs, Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. Although every situation is different, you can help yourself gain control of any problem by understanding what basic steps you need to address first and foremost.

5. Treat patients with respect and dignity: This may seem basic, and it should go without saying. You may think, “Obviously, I would always be respectful.” However, EMS work can often put you and others in a very stressful environment. As a first responder, it is your responsibility, and it’s to your advantage, to de-escalate and calm stressful situations. Often patients may assess their physical states as worse than they are. It is not your job to convince them otherwise. You are the patient’s advocate; a kind face and gentle words can go a long way.

Team of EMS workers moving a wounded man

6. Treat others with respect and dignity: Just like the previous tip, treating everyone with respect and dignity is important. Being kind to the patient allows for more accessible communication about your situation. However, being kind to fellow responders or volunteer workers allows for more straightforward problem-solving and teamwork. Alienating others only endangers the patient or the other people on the scene.

7. Accept that you will make some mistakes: Nobody is perfect. Cliché but undoubtedly true. However, this idea is more easily said than done. It is impossible to avoid mistakes, so the best EMTs learn from their mistakes instead of beating themselves up. A true EMS professional never stops learning. A mentality that seeks to learn from every mistake will far surpass a mentality that regrets errors.

8. Be adaptable: This may be the tip that takes the longest to master. Most realistically, it is the tip that you cannot ever master. No matter how comprehensive your EMS training is, it cannot teach you everything or prepare you entirely for every situation you encounter. Becoming adaptable is your greatest advantage. Remember all the proper procedures and understand what you need to do but always be prepared for anything.

9. Find a mentor: Although learning is most effective with hands-on interactions, there is immeasurable value in learning from someone with more experience. Learning from an experienced individual can help you see how to change to be more successful. Furthermore, a mentor can help you look at problems from a different perspective or illuminate solutions you may have never come across. There is also much to be said about diversifying the channels you learn from. Watching others, listening, and working as a team can all help you become the best you can be.

10. Take care of your body: As EMS work involves constant movement and often physically strenuous activities, such as lifting patients, keeping your body as sharp as your mind is important. A proper diet will help you maintain a clear mind and able body while on the job. Furthermore, learning to lift correctly by lifting weights or squatting in your free time will benefit you in the long run.

11. Cultivate a life outside of EMS work: If you intend on going far in the EMS field, you must keep the work from consuming you. Although wholehearted dedication to your work is admirable, it is not sustainable. Maintaining a healthy mental state is just as important as maintaining your body. Successful veteran EMTs have taken time to become more than just EMS professionals and enjoy a life beyond their work. Remember to leave room for friendships, hobbies, and other interests.

Smiling female paramedic

By keeping these valuable tips in mind through all stages of your professional development, you can take significant steps toward being an outstanding EMT with a long and rewarding career. For more helpful information for your EMS career, visit Unitek EMT. If you are interested in becoming an EMS worker or EMT, consider looking into the courses Unitek EMT offers.

About Unitek EMT

Unitek EMT is one of the premier EMT schools in Arizona. Our mission is simple: training the next wave of top-notch EMT professionals. We offer various training options to fit your needs, including an accelerated EMT program to get you mission-ready and certified fast. We also provide EMS Continuing Education courses to update your expertise and enhance your career. Unitek EMT instructors are experienced leaders in their fields, and our real-world training scenarios are ideal for aspiring EMT professionals.

2 replies
  1. Rebecca Gardner
    Rebecca Gardner says:

    I like how you said that EMS workers need to have healthy habits and take good care of their bodies. My brother wants to find an air ambulance company to partner with since his new business is in a remote location. I’ll have to share this info so he knows what questions to ask potential air ambulance companies soon.

    • Unitek EMT
      Unitek EMT says:

      Thank you for the kind comment. We’re so glad you enjoyed this article, and we wish your brother all the best!

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