Becoming an Ambulance Technician
An ambulance technician is a term that’s sometimes used for an EMT or emergency medical technician. An EMT is trained at various levels including EMT-basic and EMT paramedic, which is the highest level of EMT training and the one with the largest scope of care.
Emergency medical specialties that do ambulance technician training in basic and advanced life support are relatively new in the United States, emerging in the early 1970s. Prior to that, even doctors didn’t specialize in emergency medicine. Hospital ERs were staffed with general practitioners and specialists such as cardiologists, orthopedists and pulmonologists to deal with medical emergencies. After the inception of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), emergency medical training programs were officially recognized by medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association.
The first emergency medical technicians were trained shortly thereafter to handle the needs of medical care in emergency situations outside of hospitals. Initially, ambulance technicians or EMTs were trained in the same way as physicians’ assistants. Since then the training has been modified to meet the needs of the unique settings of modern emergency rescue situations.
An ambulance technician or EMT is trained in either basic or advanced life support depending on their level of certification. Many ambulance crews are staffed with different levels of EMTs, including basic EMTs and paramedics. They also do non-emergency transport of patients between various medical institutions.
Becoming an ambulance technician requires various levels of schooling. To become a basic EMT, you need to receive about 150 hours of training, depending on state requirements. A basic EMT is trained in emergency procedures for things such as cardiac arrest, respiratory trauma, broken bones, cuts, childbirth and drowning. After training completion, which includes both classroom and clinical work, you must pass a state certification test.
An ambulance technician is also sometimes a trained paramedic who can do advanced life-saving work such as administering IV medications and performing advanced airway passage maneuvers. A paramedic must first undergo basic EMT training, after which they complete another 1,200 to 1,800 hours of class-work and clinical education, depending state requirements. Community colleges often offer this training as a two-year degree program. Some require enrollees to have completed college-level math, biology and English classes. Paramedic training is much more rigorous than basic EMT training, but it affords you better employment opportunities and more pay.
EMT ambulance technicians work in teams, providing emergency medical assistance and transporting patients to the emergency room, if necessary. During patient transportation, one person drives while the other attends to the medical needs of the patient. Once they’ve arrived at the hospital, they transfer the patient into the emergency room, and apprise the ER staff about the patient’s condition. They also have to prepare reports on each patient for the hospital, as well as for the ambulance service records.
Becoming an ambulance technician is a great career choice, with lots of opportunities for fulfilling, secure employment.