Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) professionals generally work in the pre-hospital setting, responding to calls for emergency care. Following instructions from a dispatcher, EMTs determine the nature and extent of a patient’s injury, while also trying to determine whether the patient has any pre-existing medical conditions. EMTs provide immediate emergency care and then transport the sick or injured person to a medical facility. There are several levels of EMTs, including: First responder, EMT-Basic, EMT Intermediate, and Paramedic.
All levels are well-trained in first-aid and emergency care. Advanced levels require additional education and clinical training in both advanced assessment techniques and advanced medical interventions.
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics work in all areas of emergency medical services (EMS). EMS services include government agencies, fire departments, hospital-based ambulance services, private companies, industrial settings and the military.</p
- Private ambulance companies
- Public emergency care services (local government)
EMTs and paramedics work both indoors and out, in all types of weather. They are required to do considerable kneeling, bending, and heavy lifting, so good physical condition is essential. They are exposed to potentially dangerous conditions due to the emergency nature of the work, as well as life-and-death situations. While many people find the work exciting and challenging, it may be stressful. The work schedule may exceed 40 hours a week or involved irregular hours because emergency services function 24/7.
Employment of EMTs and paramedics is expected to grow 9 percent between 2008 and 2018, about average for all occupations. Growth will come largely because of a growing elderly population. Also, the time EMTs and paramedics must spend with each patient is increasing as emergency departments around the country are experiencing overcrowding, and transfer of care takes longer. Ambulances may be diverted to other hospitals when the nearest facility is too busy, thus increasing transit time.
- Ability to learn the practices and techniques of emergency medical treatment
- Good numerical and verbal abilities
- Good space and form perception, manual dexterity, general coordination, and physical stamina
- Ability to relate to people, react calmly, and help others feel at ease
- Ability to make decisions based on observation and data
- Ability to make quick judgments and to take responsibility
EMT certification requires completion of a 110-hour training course in emergency medical care approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It can be accomplished in a few months, but advanced certification may take up to two years. Some paramedic program graduates earn an associate degree.
Nebraska has a certifying exam for each level of EMS provider, but will also expect successful passage of the National Registry exam. All EMS professionals must be licensed by the State and complete ongoing continuing education as required by law.
Applicants for certification as an EMT must be at least 18 years of age, have a current CPR certification, complete the EMT course, and pass the EMT certifying exam or have a current EMT certification from the National Registry of Emergency Technicians.
Applicants for certification as an EMT-Paramedic must be at least 18 years of age, have a current CPR certification, complete the EMT-paramedic course, pass the EMT-paramedic exam, and have a current EMT-paramedic certificate from the National Registry of Emergency Technicians.
Programs in Nebraska
- Central Community College - Grand Island (Certificate)
- Creighton Health Sciences – Omaha (Associate, Bachelor’s)
- Metropolitan Community College – Omaha (Certificate, Associate)
- Mid-Plains Community College – North Platte, McCook (Diploma, Associate)
- Northeast Community College – Norfolk (Certficate, Associate)
- Southeast Community College – Lincoln (Associate)
- Western Nebraska Community College – Scottsbluff (Certificate, Associate)
Related / Links
Other careers that require quick and level-headed reactions to life-or-death situations:
Career information adapted in part from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handook, 2010-2011 Edition, EMT/Paramedics, on the Internet at www.bls.gov