How to Become a Paramedic

Paramedics are first responders in medical emergencies. Fire departments and ambulance services employ paramedics. The specialized training received by these medical professionals allow them to stablize patients in the field, ensuring that the patient is ready for transport to a medical facility. Paramedics perform CPR, endotracheal intubalations and administer medications intravenously. They may provide more complex treatment with the help of radio supervision from a doctor. The work of a Paramedic is exciting and provides a valuable service to patients in times of emergency.

Some people believe that the terms EMT and Paramedic are interchangable. This is not the case. Becoming certified as a Paramedic requires more training hours. The levels of certification are as follows:

  • EMT-Basics (EMT-B) after completing 120 hours of training, EMTs provide basic emergency care.
  • EMT-Intermediate (EMT-I) requiring about 50 additional hours of training in subjects like intravenous lines and airways.
  • Paramedics (EMT-P) after about 2000 hours of additional training, Paramedics are legally able to administer medications and perform advance procedures.

A plus to this system is that an EMT can be employed as either an EMT-B or EMT-I while working on their classwork and advanced Paramedic training. This allows for valuable on the job training as well as a steady source of income while training.

How do you become a Paramedic? Each state has it’s own requirements. The first step is to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Almost every community college offers EMT training. EMT training can also be gotten at private vocation schools and adult education programs. Emergency Medical Technicians take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians Examination to become a certified EMT. After receiving EMT certification, the candidate applies to a paramedic program.

Paramedic schools run from eight months to two years. The training, which consists of 750 – 1500 hours of classroom and field instruction, allows the candidate to get experience in performing medical procedures as well as classes in anatomy, pharmacology and physiology. The student who successfully completes Paramedic school will be able to insert intravenous lines, EKG’s and intubations. Paramedic schools require that students spend a number of hours working in emergency rooms, fire departments and ambulances. Students learn to recognize and treat conditions like heart attacks, drug overdoses and injuries from trauma. Some paramedic schools require that students take classes in advance life support for cardiac or other patients.

When the student graduates from paramedic school, they must pass the licensing exam for their state. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians also offers a national Paramedic exam. After passing the exam, the Paramedic may seek employment as a Paramedic. No Paramedic is allowed to work without passing this exam.

Paramedics are employed by fire departments, in hospital emergency rooms and private ambulance companies. Some fire departments require Paramedic training before allowing applicants to take the initial employment exam. The demand for trained Paramedics is likely to increase over the next few years as the baby boomer generation ages and the population continues to grow.

The following two resources may help in locating a Paramedic school in your area.

  • Paramedic.com
  • 2. The Medical Training Directory

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