A first responder provides medical assistance

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

People's lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of emergency medical technicians (EMTs).  Incidents such as automobile accidents, heart attacks, falls, childbirth, and gunshot wounds require immediate emergency medical care. EMTs provide this vital service as they care for and transport the sick or injured to the appropriate medical facility.

In an emergency, EMTs are quite often dispatched by a 911 operator to the scene, where they often work with police and fire fighters. Once one the scene, EMTs assess the patient's condition, while trying to determine whether the patient has any pre-existing medical conditions as well as the severity of the condition. Using pre-determined protocols, they provide emergency care and transport the patient to the appropriate medical facility. EMTs operate in emergency medical services systems where a physician provides medical direction and oversight.

EMTs use special equipment, such as backboards, to immobilize patients before placing them on stretchers and securing them in the ambulance for transport to a medical facility. They typically work in teams of two or more. During the transport of a patient, one EMT drives, while the other monitors the patient's vital signs and gives additional care, as needed.

How to Become an Emergency Medical Technician

Emergency Medical Technicians (known as EMTs) are trained to provide emergency care outside of the hospital setting.    Peoples’ lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of EMTs.  Incidents as varied as automobile accidents, heart attacks, drownings, childbirth, and gunshot wounds all require immediate medical attention.  EMTs provide this critical care as they tend to and transport the sick and injured to a medical facility.

In an emergency, EMTs are most often dispatched to the scene by a 911 operator.  They often work with police and fire department personnel.  Many fire departments require certification as an EMT to be part of their staff.  Once they arrive, they determine the nature and extent of a patient’s condition and formulate a care plan.  Following strict rules and guidelines, called protocols, they give appropriate emergency care and, when necessary, transport the patients. EMT Basic denotes the first level of the Emergency Medical Technician system.

Formal training and certification is needed to become an EMT.   To maintain certification, EMTs must re-certify every 2 years.  Basic coursework typically emphasizes emergency skills such as managing respiratory trauma and cardiac emergency and patient assessment.  Formal courses are often combined with time in an emergency room or ambulance. The program also provides for instruction and practice dealing with bleeding, fractures, airway obstruction, cardiac arrest, and emergency childbirth.  Students learn how to use and maintain common emergency equipment such as backboards, suction devices, splints, oxygen delivery systems, and stretchers. Graduates of an approved EMT training program who pass a written and practical examination administered by the state certifying them with the title of Registered EMT Basic.  This course is also a prerequisite for EMT Intermediate and EMT Paramedic Training.

Job Opportunities

Employment needs for EMT is expected to grow faster than the average of all other occupations through 2012. Population growth and urbanization will increase the demand for full-time paid EMTs, rather than for volunteers in a department.  In addition, a large segment of the population – the aging baby boomers – will further spur the demand for EMT services as they become more likely to have medical emergencies.  Opportunities for individuals will be best for those who have advanced certification such as EMT Intermediate and EMT Paramedic as clients and patients demand higher levels of care before arriving at the hospital.

Course Information

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has assumed responsibility for the development of training courses that are responsive to the standards established by the Highway Safety Act of 1966 (amended).  Since these training courses are designed to provide national guidelines for training, it is NHTSA's intention that they be of the highest quality and be maintained in a current and up-todate status from the point of view of both technical content and instructional strategy.  To this end, NHTSA supported the current project which involved revision of the 1984 Emergency Medical Technician-Ambulance: National Standard Curriculum , deemed of high value to the states in carrying out their annual training programs. This course is one of a series of courses making up a National EMS training program for prehospital care. The curriculum, Emergency Medical Technician-Basic: National Standard Curriculum , is the cornerstone of EMS prehospital training. In addition, the new curriculum parallels the recommendations of the National EMS Education and Practice Blueprint .

The EMT-Basic curriculum is a core curriculum of minimum required information, to be presented within a minimum 119-hour training program. It is recognized that there is additional specific education that will be required of EMT-Basics who operate in the field, i.e. ambulance driver training, heavy and light rescue, basic extrication, special needs, and so on. It is also recognized that this information might differ from locality to locality, and that each training program, or system should identify and provide special training requirements. This curriculum is intended to prepare a medically competent EMT-Basic to operate in the field. Enrichment programs and continuing education will help fulfill other specific needs for the EMT-Basic's education.

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