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Pursuing an Emergency Medical Technician

Sep 30, 2010

Emergency medical technicians save many lives every year. In order to become an emergency medical technician, it is necessary to have the proper training. Emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, are responsible for going on emergency calls, administering oxygen, and in conjunction with other health care professionals, treating minor as well as very serious medical problems. Training to become an emergency medical technician does not take an especially long time; usually training lasts less than a year.

Educational Requirements

Many community colleges as well as universities offer training programs to help train EMTs. These programs last less than a year and can be taken at nights or on weekends. These classes are taught mostly in a classroom, by trained medical professionals who are usually experienced EMTs, paramedics, and even pre-hospital registered nurses. Basic life support is taught to EMT students as well as oxygen administration, assessment skills, splinting techniques, treating anaphylactic emergencies, burn patients, children, elderly, and the rest of the adult population. The EMT student will learn to use their assessment skills to assist in treating and transportation of a number of medical problems. They will also get practice using critical thinking skills to solve problems. They will learn how to properly notify the emergency room about a patient's arrival. EMT students will also be taught about the legality of their job in the field. EMT students will be required to take a credentialing exam that includes both practical and written components in order to be licensed EMTs.

On-the-Job Training

While EMT students learn a lot from classroom instruction, which will include lectures and clinical labs, they will learn even more once they begin working in a hospital, for an ambulance service, or even for a fire department. During the first year or so on the job, they will be exposed to many different kinds of emergencies and have the opportunity to treat everything from minor injuries to life threatening conditions. They will learn about their work environment and especially pre-hospital treatment. Often, they will be paired with a partner who is either an experienced EMT or an experienced paramedic in order to learn the proper protocol. Their partner might also teach them about the importance of documentation.

Job Description

The exact duties of an EMT will be dependent on the state or area in which the EMT works as well as in which type of environment the EMT chooses to work. Each state has its own laws that dictate what an EMT is allowed to do in an emergency situation. The laws are similar from state to state. EMTs in a pre-hospital setting are usually allowed to drive an ambulance, provide emergency medical treatment in the form of airway management, intravenous fluids, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, cardiac defibrillation, splinting bone injuries, cervical spine immobilization, oxygen administration, and giving report to the receiving hospital. Emergency medical technicians also will find opportunities in emergency rooms where they will help nurses with procedures, intravenous line placement, transporting patients to diagnostic tests, and many other tasks.

Job Options

There will continue to be a large number of jobs available in the future for well-trained emergency medical technicians. Volunteer opportunities also exist in some areas for EMTs to generously donate their time to the welfare of others.

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