The long standing EMS role in the 911 system remains a vibrant job market. There are several levels of service that exist to provide medical care during a medical crisis.
At the entry level, the Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) provides First Aid. Emergency Medical Responder training is often required for ambulance personnel, firefighters, police, day camp employees, and lifeguards.
The next level is the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). The EMT provides a much broader scope of basic care and is an integral component of the 911 system but also may work in dispatch, industrial medicine, hospitals and other ares in need of basic emergency medical care.
Emergeny Medical Technician Advanced certification allows the EMT-A to provide limited advanced life support with additional training.
The highest level of EMS service is the Paramedic. They can provide basic and advanced level care to patients and are the medical authority at the scene of medical emergencies. The Paramedic position is evolving currently to meet healthcare challenges. Two examples are Community Paramedics and Critical Care Paramedics.
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics are typically dispatched via the 911 Emergency Medical Services dispatcher to the location of an ill or injured person. Working with other pre-hospital care personnel, they quickly assess the patient's medical condition, and then follow pre-established medical protocols to administer appropriate medical care. The prompt support and intervention is often life-saving.
Personal characteristics and working conditions: Desire to help others in emergency situations. Ability to remain calm under stressful and often dangerous situations. Ability to think quickly with good assessment skills. Ability to work well under pressure. Good communication skills and the ability to follow directions when requested by superiors. Ability to work well in a team. Mechanical aptitude with good manual dexterity. Excellent physical health and tolerance for working in a variety of outdoor conditions. Tolerance for working with blood-borne pathogens and body fluids. Stamina to work 12 or 24 hour shifts and/or nights, weekends and holidays.
In the State of California, a high school diploma and an American Heart Association Basic Life Support CPR card are prerequisites before starting EMT training. Training is progressive, building on experience and knowledge until advancing to a Paramedic level. Each step of advancement has specific training requirements in addition to continuing education classes required for recertification.
The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employemnt of EMTs and Paramedics will increase by 39,000 new jobs between 2006 and 2016, an estimated growth rate of 19%. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation because of the limited potential for advancement, as well as the modest pay and lack of good benefits in the private-sector.
According to the National Association of EMTs, most EMTs, 37.6%, are employed by fire departments, 24.3% represent county or municipal-based services, 21.7% are from volunteer rescue services and 15.5% are from hospital-based services (including private ambulance companies).
Links to Additional Career Information
California Emergency Medical Services Authority (916) 322-4336:
National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians:
Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Salary/Wage: Click here