Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are professionals who offer both basic and advanced life support for patients in the prehospital setting. Some of the main functions of EMTs include:
- Bandaging wounds
- Management of patients with behavioural disorders
- Assisting in childbirth
- Splinting of fractures
- Treatment of patients in shock
- Bleeding control and tourniquet administration
- Administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Administering treatment for burned and poisoned victims
After offering on-site life-saving care, EMTs transport patients to medical centers (i.e. hospitals) for advanced medical services. Emergency Medical Technicians are grouped into three groups, namely basic, intermediate, and paramedic levels. EMTs are required to have completed a certified course and obtained state licensure before they can work with any institution. However, the requirements do vary in some states. The educational requirements for both basic and advanced EMT are highlighted below.
The EMT- B is the first certification level, which offers practical training and fundamental knowledge to individuals pursuing careers as EMTS. The applicants for the EMT-B certification must pass both the national registry, or NREMT, and state-approved psychomotor certification exams. Candidates must be more than 18 years old and have completed the EMT course within the last two years in order to take the NREMT exam.
Additionally, the candidates must have a CPR course certification. In cases where the candidates completed the EMT program more than two years ago and are currently licensed, applicants must document that they completed a state-approved refresher course. However, if the candidates are not licensed as EMTs and completed their course more than two years ago, they must complete a new state-approved EMT course before they can apply for the national certifications.
The EMT-B coursework assists students in gaining competency in handling medical emergencies, including shock management, spinal immobilization, trauma management, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. EMT courses involve seven (or more) modules, namely operations, infants and children, trauma, medical emergencies, patient assessment, airway, and preparatory.
Once students are through with the certification program, they will also be required to pass both the cognitive and psychomotor examinations. Notably, the cognitive exam involves a computer-based test that lasts for one to two hours and has between 70 to 120 questions. On the other hand, the psychomotor exam involves testing hands-on skills such as oxygen administration, joint immobilization, bleeding control, shock management, and patient assessment. The EMT-B certification is usually valid for two years. Therefore, professionals in this field are required to recertify by getting other advanced certifications, highlighted below, or by sitting through continuing education courses.
Under the EMT intermediate/85 course, students are taught to perform more invasive emergency medical procedures than EMT-basics. Some of the procedures covered under this EMT- course include advanced patient assessment, medication administration, intubation, and supervised applications of certain medications. The course content for EMT-I includes trauma emergencies, pediatrics, geriatrics, cardiovascular care, intravenous administration, pharmacology, human anatomy, physiology, documentation of medical history, and other advanced procedures. For students to receive the EMT intermediate/85 certification, they must complete both the cognitive and psychomotor examinations.
On the other hand, the EMT intermediate/99 course offers students more advanced training compared to what is offered under the EMT intermediate/85 certification. In this case, students are imparted with high-level practical techniques, such as advanced airway management, medical administration, and cardiac monitoring (which includes defibrillation, cardioversion, and cardiac pacing). In addition, students also gain experience in endotracheal intubation, administration of drugs for heart arrhythmias, tension pneumothorax decompression, and reading electrocardiograms.
In addition to the above experience, students must also complete both the cognitive and psychomotor examinations to receive the EMT intermediate/99 certification. However for the student to pass the cognitive test, he or she must show competency in all areas of EMS care, like obstetrics, cardiology, pediatrics, trauma, airway and breathing management (these areas are highlighted, compared to EMT intermediate/85).
Generally, both basic and intermediate EMT professionals can easily find a job in their local area. Although many of the EMTs work for public or private ambulance services, they can also offer medical assistance in hospitals and fire departments. Additionally, EMTs can offer volunteer services, especially in small communities.
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