Even though the Paramedic is generally part of a two-person team working with an EMT, it is the Paramedic who is held responsible for safe and therapeutic administration of drugs and other advanced interventions. Therefore, the Paramedic must not only be knowledgable about medications but must be able to apply this knowledge in a practical sense.
The Paramedic must be a confident leader able to accept the challenges and responsibilities associated with the position. The Paramedic must have excellent judgment and be able to prioritize decisions as well as to act quickly in the best interests of the patient. He or she must be self disciplined, able to develop patient rapport, and recognize and communicate appropriately with diverse, multicultural groups. Additionally, he or she must be able to function independently in a non-structured, minimally supervised environment that is constantly evolving.
People's lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of Paramedics. Incidents as varied as automobile accidents, heart attacks, drownings, childbirth, and gunshot wounds all require immediate medical attention. Paramedics provide the vital attention as they care for and transport the sick and injured to a medical facility.
In an emergency, Paramedics are typically dispatched to the scene by a 911 operator and often work with police and fire department personnel. Once they arrive, they determine the nature and extent of a patient’s condition while trying to ascertain whether the patient has preexisting medical problems. Following strict rules and guidelines, they give appropriate emergency care and, when necessary, transport the patients.
Some paramedics are trained to treat patients with minor injuries on the scene of an accident or at their home without transporting to a medical facility. Emergency treatment for more complicated problems is carried out under the direction of medical doctors by radio, preceding or during transport.
Paramedics provide the most extensive pre-hospital care. In addition to carrying out the procedures described above, paramedics may administer drugs orally or intravenously, interpret electro cardiograms (EKGs), perform endotracheal intubations, and use monitors and other complex equipment.
Paramedics work both indoors and outdoors in all types of weather. They are required to do considerable kneeling, bending, and heavy lifting. Many people find the work of an EMT exciting and challenging and enjoy the opportunity to help others. Paramedics employed by fire departments work 40-50 hours per week; those employed by hospitals frequently work between 40-60 hours per week; and those employed by private ambulance services work between 45-50 hours per week.
Paramedics held about 265,000 jobs in 2004. Most career Paramedics work in metropolitan areas; there are many more EMTs and Paramedics especially in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas.
At the Paramedic level, the caregiver gives additional training in body function and learns more advanced skills than an EMT. Education for a Paramedic requires the individual to graduate from a school KBEMS approved TEI and successfully pass the National Registry EMT Examination to become a certified EMT/Paramedic. Extensive related coursework and clinical and field experience is required. Due to the longer training requirement, almost all EMT/Paramedics are in paid positions rather than being volunteers. Refresher courses and continuing education are available for Paramedics at all levels.
Employment for Paramedics 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 Paramedics, rather than for volunteers. In addition, a large segment of the population – the aging baby boomers – will further spur the demand for Paramedic services as they become more likely to have medical emergencies.
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 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-to-date 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 1985 Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic: National Standard Curriculum , deemed of high value to the states in carrying out their annual training programs. This curriculum was developed to be consistent with the recommendations of the National Emergency Medical Services Education and Practice Blueprint , the EMT and Paramedic Practice Analysis , and the EMS Agenda for the Future . This course is one of a series of courses making up a National EMS training program for prehospital care. The EMT-Paramedic: National Standard Curriculum , represents the highest level of education in EMS prehospital training.
The EMT-Paramedic: National Standard Curriculum represents the minimum required information to be presented within a course leading to certification as a Paramedic. It is recognized that there is additional specific education that will be required of Paramedics who operate in the field, i.e. ambulance driving, 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 instruction for these training requirements. This curriculum is intended to prepare a medically competent Paramedic to operate in the field. Enrichment programs and continuing education will help fulfill other specific needs for the Paramedic’s education.