A paramedic is a health care professional responsible for providing medical assistance to patients while they are en route to the hospitals. They are always the first one at the scene of the accident and are responsible for the initial assessment of a patient’s condition. The vast majority of paramedics in the United States work on a land ambulance, but you may see them on an air ambulance (helicopter or plane). What is the paramedic job description?

Paramedic Job Description

Paramedics give immediate response to 911 calls. As the first healthcare provider at the scene of emergency situations, they collaborate with firefighters and police in evaluating the situation. They attend emergencies from minor injuries to severe casualties arising from accidents, fires, natural disasters, criminal violence, and other incidents. Ambulances usually have two or more crewmembers, which include a paramedic and an emergency medical technician. Nowadays, ambulance vehicles are equipped with many high-tech devices resembling those found in the emergency department of a hospital, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), automated external defibrillator (AED), X-ray devices, etc.

The paramedics’ duty when they first arrive at the scene is to properly assess the patient’s condition and to quickly determine the course of action necessary to stabilize the patient. This assessment includes a head-to-toe survey and the ABC of Emergency Medicine (airway, breathing, and circulation). Paramedics then take the patient to the hospital via an ambulance while making sure the patient’s condition is stable during the ride. They use specialized equipment called backboards, which immobilizes the patient before they are placed on a stretcher for secure transport. In many cases, this initial assessment and treatment is crucial to the survival of the patient. Being a paramedic can be stressful and requires the ability to handle a great deal of responsibility, especially when an individual’s life is in their hands.

The duties of a paramedic include the following:

  • Help to resuscitate patients in an emergency before hospital admission
  • Provide medical assistance during emergency situations, such as CPR, AED, prevent shock, control severe bleeding, prevent spinal damage, etc.
  • Administer intravenous medications, drips, and oxygen (only EMT-P)
  • Perform endotracheal intubations (only EMT-P)
  • Evaluate a patient’s condition to determine the right course of treatment
  • Monitor patient’s condition and keep it stable while en route to the hospital
  • Aid in the transfer of patients to the emergency units of hospitals
  • Help to calm down the family members of the victim and the public on scene
  • Create a patient care report and take notes of the medical treatment given to the patient
  • Keep the equipment clean after use; check and replace damaged and used supplies
  • Decontaminate the interior of the ambulance if used to transport a patient suffering from a contagious disease

Paramedic Prerequisites

Candidates are expected to have a high school diploma or the equivalent and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification before enrolling in programs to become a paramedic. It is recommended that high school students who want to build a career in this field take courses in physiology and anatomy.

How to become a Paramedic

Formal training is provided to qualified applicants by community colleges, technical institutes, and facilities that specialize in providing training for emergency care. There are 3 progressive levels of training, each requiring additional coursework, hands-on training, and certification: EMT basic level, EMT intermediate level, and advanced level training for Paramedics (EMT-P). The highest level of training (EMT-P) requires a classroom education of 1000 hours or more and gives successful graduates the designation of Paramedic. EMT-Paramedics provide the most extensive care. EMT-P is the only certification that allows the individual to administer drugs intravenously, utilize electrocardiograms (EKGs), and perform endotracheal intubations. This program typically takes from 1 to 2 years and results in an Associate’s degree. Extensive clinical and field experience is also required.

Find a Paramedic School

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Paramedic Certification

The certification for paramedics is provided by the National Registry of Emergency Technicians (NREMT) and is required by all 50 states before an individual can practice. Before an applicant is given any certification by NREMT, he/she is expected to complete a certified education program or training and to pass the NREMT national written and practical exams. Once certified, a minimum number of continuing education hours are required every year by the state board to maintain certification.

Paramedic Salary

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Paramedic Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the paramedic job description:
  • Provide medical assistance to patients en route to hospital
  • Work with EMT, emergency care assistant, etc.
  • EMT-P requires 1000+ hours of training
  • Must obtain certification before practice
  • 23% employment growth by 2022