Emergency Medical Technicians
On the Job
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) give care to ill or injured people. If patients need more care, EMTs drive them to medical facilities.
Unfortunately, most of us experience some kind of medical emergency during our lives. It can be anything from a broken bone to a car accident. Things happen, ambulances are called, and thankfully doctors and nurses are there to treat us and help us heal. In fact, most of us thank the doctor for their help. Yet, they were not the first people to treat us. EMTs are usually the first on the scene and in many cases, save people's lives before they ever see a doctor.EMTs answer calls from dispatchers and learn where to go. They drive to the scene of emergencies and examine the injured. They determine the nature and extent of the injury or illness and record patients' vital signs. They may also talk to other emergency personnel, such as police and fire departments, if they are needed at the scene.
EMTs try to determine if patients have preexisting conditions, such as diabetes. Next, they give emergency care. They note patients' reactions to drugs and care. EMTs may use equipment such as electrocardiographs (EKGs) to monitor patients. Occasionally patients are trapped in cars or buildings. EMTs free them or provide care while others free the patients. In some cases, EMTs must use emergency equipment, such as defibrillators and resuscitators. They may also give emergency drugs and perform intravenous procedures.
EMTs transport patients to medical facilities as soon as they can. They put patients on stretchers to move them to the ambulance. They make sure patients can't move so they don't injure themselves more. While one EMT drives, the other monitors patients and gives additional medical care. They may call ahead to alert the medical staff. EMTs may talk with doctors to get advice about what medications to give patients. At the medical center, EMTs transfer patients to the emergency room. They report the status of patients to emergency room staff. They record what treatment was given on patients' charts. EMTs may stay and provide additional help or information. After patients are delivered, EMTs replace supplies and check equipment. They also clean and decontaminate the ambulances.
There are three levels of training for EMTs. The more training EMTs have, the more care they can give to victims.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Administer first aid and emergency treatment to sick or injured persons.
- Operate equipment that monitors the heart, restarts the heart, and provides oxygen to patients.
- Assess nature and extent of illness or injury to decide what medical procedures to do and when to do them.
- Clean, decontaminate, and maintain vehicles. Refill supplies that were used.
- Observe and record patients' conditions and reactions to treatment. Report them to physicians.
- Perform emergency care and procedures during ambulance ride.
- Administer drugs under a physician's direction.
- Comfort and reassure patients.
- Use specialized equipment, such as backboards and stretchers, to keep patients from moving.
- Communicate with other emergency personnel, such as fire or police departments, to organize treatment.
- Work as part of a team with other emergency responders.
- Drive ambulances to accident sites, following instructions from dispatchers.
- Assist treatment center staff to obtain and record victims' vital statistics and medical history.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Assist and care for others.
- Document and record information.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Work with the public.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Operate vehicles or mechanized equipment.
- Inspect equipment, structures, or materials.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Perform activities that use the whole body.
- Handle and move objects.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Process information.
- Teach others.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Evaluate information against standards.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a high level of social interaction. They constantly work with the public and other emergency workers.
- Often deal with people who are angry or unpleasant due to their illnesses or injuries.
- Are greatly responsible for the health and safety of patients and coworkers.
- Are responsible for the outcomes and results of others.
- Often deal with patients that are physically aggressive.
- Are sometimes placed in conflict situations.
- Work as part of an emergency team. This is extremely important because they must coordinate their work to provide the best care.
- Communicate face-to-face with coworkers and patients everyday.
- Communicate with other emergency departments daily by telephone.
- Write letters and memos often.
- Are always exposed to diseases and infections when treating patients.
- Work both indoors and outdoors.
- Wear protective attire daily.
- Are often exposed to contaminants.
- Are often exposed to very hot or very cold temperatures.
- Are often exposed to hazardous equipment, conditions, and situations.
- Work in an enclosed vehicle, such as an ambulance, daily.
- Work very near other people and have little space between self and others.
- Regularly work in cramped places that require them to get into awkward positions.
- Are exposed daily to sounds and noise levels that are distracting and uncomfortable. This is especially true when riding in an ambulance with the sirens on.
- Often work indoors without heating or air conditioning.
- Are sometimes exposed to extreme lighting conditions. They may work in very bright light or in dim light.
- Sometimes wear specialized protective gear or safety attire.
- Must be very exact in performing the job and make sure that all the details have been followed. Errors could seriously endanger patients.
- Often repeat the same tasks over and over, such as checking vital signs and administering first aid.
- Can make most decisions without consulting a supervisor.
- Can set some tasks and goals without talking to a supervisor.
- Make decisions daily that affect the health of their patients.
- Meet strict weekly deadlines.
- Make decisions that strongly impact other people.
- May work part time or full time.
- Most work over 40 hours per week. Those who work for fire departments work about 50 hours per week. Those who work for hospitals work between 45 and 60 hours per week.
- May work days, evenings, nights, or weekends. Emergency services are available 24 hours a day.
- May be on call for extended periods of time, especially those who work for police and fire departments.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Use their hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.
- Bend or twist their body.
- Stand for long periods of time.
- Repeat the same movements.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Use hands or fingers to grasp, move, or assemble objects.
- Move two or more limbs together (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while remaining in place.
- Bend, stretch, twist, or reach out.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- Use muscles to lift, push, pull, or carry heavy objects.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- React quickly using hands, fingers, or feet.
- Choose quickly and correctly among various movements when responding to different signals.
- Coordinate movement of several parts of the body, such as arms and legs, while the body is moving.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Be physically active for long periods without getting tired or out of breath.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Hear sounds, recognize the difference between them, and focus on one sound.
- Adjust body movements or equipment controls to keep pace with speed changes of moving objects.
- Move arms and legs quickly.
- Use muscles for extended periods without getting tired.
- Use muscles to jump, sprint, or throw objects.
- Make fast, repeated movements of fingers, hands, and wrists.
- Keep or regain the body's balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.
- While looking forward, see objects or movements that are off to the side.
- See objects in very bright or very dim light.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.