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Emergency medical technicians are professionals who respond to 911 dispatches and medical emergencies by providing immediate care. An EMT is responsible for stopping bleeding and pain, and delivering a patient to the hospital safely. A "paramedic" is a highly trained EMT who holds a degree in paramedical science. A paramedic is authorized to give patients a wider variety of drugs than an EMT-1.
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First, understand that there are 4 levels of EMTs: EMT basic (lowest), intermediate 85, intermediate 99, and paramedic (highest). To become a paramedic, you must first be certified as an EMT basic, and then take coursework to earn an associates degree in paramedical science.
The names of these designations can vary slightly by state, but the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, NREMT, uses these names. It is important to note that all paramedics are EMTs, but not all EMTs are paramedics.
Next, visit the website of your state's EMS (Emergency Medical Services) to learn the requirements for getting EMT certification. Most states require a combination of coursework, practical hands on training, background checks, physical exams, and cognitive exams. In addition, you may have to pass a standardized test administered by NREMT.
After collecting info from your state, the next thing is to contact community colleges and medical trade schools. Most community colleges offer 1 year EMT basic training programs at reasonable prices. The school will also arrange for your field experience.
Private technical schools also offer EMT certification courses, though these schools can be more expensive.
Be wary of online EMT degree programs. Any school you
enroll in MUST be accredited by the state where you plan to work as an EMT. Not all of the requirements can be fulfilled by distance learning.
Keep in mind that EMTs will see a many tragedies and a lot of blood on the job. They must also be strong enough to carry patients, and be competent to drive an ambulance. Practical training exercises will test your mettle handling life and death situations.
If you can't deal with some of the experiences, your training can still be used in other fields, such as emergency dispatch.
After you have passed your classes and completed 100-200 hours of hands on training, contact your state certification board to take the required exams. If your state requires the NREMT exam, the fee is $70 for the EMT basic exam.
By passing the standardized tests and the physical exams, your certification will be complete.
Once you have become a certified EMT, you have several options before your license expires in 2 years. One is to take the necessary courses to recertify as an EMT basic. Another is to complete coursework to become an intermediate level technician, with more responsibilities and a higher pay level.
Yet a third option is to earn a paramedic associates degree. This entails 1 to 1.5 more years of study, plus about 1000 more hours of practical training.
There are many advantages of pursuing the paramedic level of EMT certification. Besides greater pay and job security, being a paramedic opens doors to leadership positions in the field of EMS, and you can also become an instructor to train other EMTs.