How to become a paramedic
To become a paramedic is a great career choice. The stress of rescue work and the irregular hours isn’t for everybody; but if you do decide to do it, you’ll have a challenging career that allows you to save the lives of people in emergency situations. Paramedics have to be able to maintain a clear head in a crisis in order to give emergency treatment, so if you’re easily rattled, you might want to think twice before you become a paramedic.
When talking about how to become a paramedic, it’s important to clarify that paramedics are the highest level of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification and are trained to give advanced life support (ALS). There are three levels of EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians); EMT-B (Basic – also called EMT-1); EMT-Intermediate and EMT-Paramedic. Informally, the designations are just referred to as EMT and paramedic.
The difference between a paramedic and an EMT is the amount of training and the scope of practice. To become a paramedic, you must undergo intensive training in providing medical rescue in emergency situations until the patient can get to a hospital. Paramedics ride in ambulances and fire trucks, as well as working in other venues.
To become a paramedic, the first step you’ll need to take is to complete the basic EMT training course. EMT-B training courses are offered at many community colleges and generally take about six months to complete. The training involves between 120 to 150 hours of education and will allow you to provide emergency treatment for things such as cardiac arrest, respiratory trauma, broken bones, cuts, childbirth and drowning. After you finish the training, you must pass a state certification test. After obtaining your basic EMT certification, it’s a good idea to put in some time on the job before you move on to doing your paramedic’s training. In fact, most EMTs work under the basic certification for a few years before moving on to become a paramedic. The years of practice you put in as an EMT will prepare you for paramedic training, which is much more arduous.
If you decide to become a paramedic, you’ll need to complete another 1,200 to 1,800 hours of training, depending on your state’s requirements. Community colleges often offer this training as a two-year degree program. You need to have completed college-level math, biology and English to enroll in most paramedic programs. The training is very intensive, combining classroom work with internships in hospital emergency rooms, ambulances and fire department emergency vehicles.
After you’ve completed your training, you’ll take a state certification exam to become a paramedic. Once you’re certified, you’ll be able to do many things that you couldn’t do as an EMT, such as give IV fluids, give injections, administer medications and perform advanced respiratory procedures.
Paramedics work in teams, often with other paramedics and EMTs. While transporting a patient, one person drives while the other takes care of the patient. Once they’ve arrived at the hospital, they transfer the patient into the emergency room and advise the staff of the condition of the patient and what treatments they’ve administered. If necessary, they help the ER staff perform additional treatment. Paramedics are required to prepare reports detailing each rescue operation they perform. To become a paramedic isn’t easy, but once you get certified, it’s an extremely rewarding career choice.