Who Ya Gonna Call? EMT’s

In a recent post, I examined the work of CNA’s and job trends in that field. This week we continue our focus on the medical industry with an article about the work of EMT’s and people in related fields such as EMS’s and Paramedics.

EMT stands for Emergency Medical Technician, a job within the broader category of EMS or Emergency Medical Service workers. Other types of EMS workers include paramedics, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners. EMT’s are the most common type of EMS caregivers and often the first on the scene to offer medical aid.

Life in the Field

Steve, an advanced EMT who works in a large metropolitan area, shared the following reflection on life as an EMT. (name changed for privacy)

The most hectic times of being an EMT are cases of cardiac arrest. At the point when someone stops breathing and their heart stops functioning properly. The reason why is usually unknown, and the times and places are never optimal to have to do procedures such as chest compressions or intubation. I remember having a day from hell as a young EMT who had found out weeks earlier that my fiancé was pregnant with my first child. The first call of the day was a pediatric cardiac arrest. Doing compressions on a child no bigger than the length of my arm in front of a family in tremendous shock and pain was extremely stressful.  I struggled to remain hopeful and not lose faith as I worked the cardiac arrest and transported the patient to the hospital knowing the slim likelihood of survival. After that you would think that the day would have only gotten easier, but it was followed by more emotional trauma including responding to a head-on, motor vehicle accident where only a 3-year-old girl in the backseat survived. The child was saved by a bystander after both vehicles spontaneously combusted and left both drivers burnt to an unrecognizable crisp. The smell will never leave my mind, nor the site of corpses burned to the seats of their vehicles. The only relief is this small child had survived due to the goodness of a passing bystander who rescued her from the enflamed vehicle. I transported the young girl, doing what was necessary to keep her alive until we made it to the hospital while knowing that I’m her only hope for the next 25 minutes.

A More Typical Day

Not all days hold the same atrocities as this one. There are days when you simply help a geriatric patient who has fallen and broken a hip with stabilization of the injured area and pain medication to alleviate the stress and pain.  It is good to see their spirits improve as I drop them at the emergency room. I became an EMT to be the one people called on when they are having the worst day of their life, to help improve their mood and situation by whatever means necessary; whether it be with invasive lifesaving maneuvers such as intubation or needle decompression of the chest for a punctured or collapsing lung, or simply administering pain medications.  – Steve

Paramedics transporting victim on stretcher


An article from the website trade-schools.net identifies the following basic steps for becoming an EMT and discusses the difference between EMT and Paramedic training.

  1. finish high school
  2. complete an approved training program in emergency medical technology
  3. pass the national certification exams
  4. get a license from your state

EMT training programs are from 120-150 hours and vary in length depending on the number of days that they meet. Some EMT programs can be completed in as few as three weeks, but most take 3-6 months. Becoming an EMT is the first step for those that want to become a paramedic. Training for paramedics is significantly longer than EMT’s, 1200 – 1800 hours. Students who complete the paramedic program often earn an associate degree.

Quick Facts

# of EMT’s in 2016 – 248,000

2017 Median Pay – $33,380 a year/$16.05 an hour.

New EMT Jobs by 2026 – 37,400


EMT pay varies from state to state, but in general is low for the high stress and vital work that they do.

EMT or Paramedic?

EMT's to the rescue

EMT’s provide basic life support while Paramedics have advanced training and can perform more advanced life support measures such as inserting a breathing tube, ECG monitoring, and IV administration of medication. Many states have an advanced certificate for EMT’s.

If you are considering becoming an EMT, you might find this article useful: 5 Reasons You Should NOT Become an EMT and Want to Become an EMT? Both articles are from the informative website dedicated to EMS topics: ems1.com.

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