If you’re reading this article, it probably means that you’re interested in EMS, and you’re wondering whether it’s the right career choice for you. When trying to answer this question, it’s important to take into account all the requirements and responsibilities that come with this life-saving profession.
Although EMT’s and paramedics are in high demand and the expected growth rate is much higher than the average, we can tell you right off the bat that this type of work isn’t for everyone. The best approach to choosing a career path is to evaluate whether the nature of the job aligns well with your personality traits. In the rest of the article, we will go through what EMS means, what the job requires, training, and certification as well as what personality traits are best suited for working in EMS.
What is EMS?
EMS (Emergency Medical Services) is a tough field. As first responders, EMTs and paramedics are sent to the scene of an emergency. This can mean car crashes, fires, shootings, bar fights, sports injuries, labor and delivery, heart attacks and strokes, severe allergic reactions, or complication from chronic medical conditions. The job description states that they’re required to provide people who are injured or critically ill with emergency medical support and, if necessary, transport them to a medical facility.
When they arrive at the scene of the emergency, EMTs and paramedics need to assess the situation and determine the medical needs of people who are sick or injured. Once they’ve assessed the situation, they triage patients if necessary and provide whatever medical assistance is needed as long as it aligns with their training. We will go into more details in a later section, but this usually means:
- Performing CPR and using an AED
- Providing oxygen
- Administering medication like epinephrine, albuterol, and naloxone
- Emergency childbirth procedures
- Stabilizing broken bones
- Stabilizing head and neck injuries
- Bandaging wounds
- Resuscitating drowning victims
An EMT certification course can take as little as three weeks if you opt for the abbreviated but very intensive programs. However, if you don’t have enough background knowledge in medicine and anatomy, chances are you find it very difficult to learn so much material in such a short time. Most colleges offer courses that last about five months. Since EMS is structured in tiers, the training program’s duration will depend on the type of certificate you want to get.
Basic EMT or EMT-B will take around 150 hours over a period of one month, three months, or a semester. You will learn both theoretical knowledge and practical skills so you can perform basic pre-hospital care. EMTs with this level of certification will typically be paired with higher-level EMTs such as EMT-I and paramedics. After completing the training, you will be required to pass a practical skills exam and work in a hospital or fire department for 48 hours. Then you can take the standardized NREMT exam.
Intermediate EMT or EMT-I expands on the EMT-B program, and you will learn additional theoretical knowledge and skills like administering certain medications. This type of certification and position does not exist in all states.
A paramedic or EMT-P certification program requires a minimum of 700 hours of training and is the most advanced pre-hospital medical care provider.
Keep in mind that regulation regarding training and certification will differ from state to state, so make sure you review your state’s requirements, and if you’re interested in joining a program, google EMT classes near me to check the curriculum.
What Qualities Do You Need to Work in EMS?
Good Communication Skills
Good communication skills are a requirement for many jobs, but they’re particularly important when it comes to emergency medical care. When we hear bedside manners, we often think of doctors and nurses, but if you work as an EMT or paramedic, you’ll be interacting with people during the worst moments of their lives. They’re scared and confused. You need to reassure them and keep their family members or bystanders calm as well.
You also need to consider that EMS providers don’t work alone. They need to perform their job duties as a team, so being a team player is essential to giving your patients the best care. If there are communication problems between you and your colleagues, the quality of care will be affected. This means that if you consider yourself a natural-born leader or a loner, this may not be the right career path for you.
You don’t always know what you will find when you’re dispatched to an emergency scene, but you can be sure that it will most often be stressful. This means that if you don’t deal well with stress, the challenges of this type of job will quickly wear you down. You need to keep a cool head because your ability to focus under stressful conditions can literally make the difference between life and death.
Many EMS providers who find it difficult to cope with the emotional strain of the job will try to detach themselves from the patients so they can do their jobs. One of the unique facets of working in emergency medicine is that, as we’ve mentioned before, you’re constantly interacting with people during the worst moments of their lives. Showing them empathy and compassion while providing the medical assistance they need is extremely important to calm them down and make them more cooperative.
You’ll often deal with people that are unstable, which makes them prone to violent behavior. For example, intoxicated individuals involved in accidents are frequently taken to the hospital while they are still under the influence. You’ll need to tend to their medical needs as well as speak to them in a way that allows you to maintain control of the situation.
Again, professionalism is important in any job, but due to the nature of EMS, it’s vital. You will often be on-call, and both your colleagues and patients rely on you to be there. Calling in sick at the last moment because you’re dealing with personal problems will not go well with this type of work.
You’ll also need to be able to separate your personal life from your professional life so you can make sound decisions in chaotic and stressful circumstances. Your patients are already overwhelmed. When you’re taking care of them, they need to see you as calm and collected. If you have a bad temper, for instance, you may not be suited for EMS. Even in the worst circumstances, you’ll be required to carry yourself with poise and be respectful.