Wednesday, November 27, 2013
In a time of crisis or emergency, these guys are your best friends.
Being a paramedic or Emergency Medical Technician can be a rewarding and exciting career choice, according to Chris Esdorn with Berkeley County Emergency Medical Service, but it can be a demanding job as well.
Also, to correct a common miscoonception, an EMT and a paramedic are not the same.
Thinking militarily, the difference between an EMT and paramedic can be compared to the different between a private and a captain.
“Research indicates EMS providers love the work they do, are committed to patient care, enjoy the education, the teamwork part of work life,” he said. “Mental stability, physical fitness and remaining calm during the storm of activities one faces as an EMT are important attributes of EMS professionals.”
While the EMT is often used as an entry portal for other health care professions, according to Esdorn, the Emergency Medical Service can be an enjoyable and rewarding life’s work, as long as you’re qualified.
“Typically, persons interested in EMS must take and pass an EMT education course, and not have a criminal background,” he said. “The majority of EMTs are paid ambulance personnel and work for county agencies or private ambulance services.”
Emergency Medical personnel have designations or titles based upon the amount of education and scope of care they provide to patients. According to Esdorn, the National EMS Scope of Practice Model has four levels of EMS care.
The Emergency Medical Responder requires approximately 58 hours of education.
“These first responders support EMTs and paramedics in the field by providing basic first aid for soft tissue and bone injuries, and assisting in childbirth,” Esdorn said. “These are the fire department roles. They also receive special training in moving and transporting patients.”
A certified first responder must be distinguished from the generic term, Esdorn added. A “first responder,” refers to the medical service provider who arrives first at the scene of an accident or emergency.
An Emergency Medical Technician requires approximately 180 hours of education.
EMT-Bs are allowed to administer medications previously prescribed to patients, and to perform non-invasive procedures such as supplemental oxygen administration, positive pressure ventilation with an Ambu bag, bleeding control and splinting to include immobilizing patients who may have spinal injuries. Specific protocols vary from state to state.
An Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) requires approximately 150 additional hours of education on top of the original 180 hours required for an EMT.
“An AEMT has more advanced training in emergency assessment, and is permitted to perform basic invasive procedures including starting IVs, administering intravenous drips, and inserting certain types of airways,” Esdorn said. “They are also allowed to administer medications to control dangerously irregular heart rhythms, and to perform follow-up cardiac monitoring, as well as to perform invasive procedures such as the decompression of potentially life-threatening pockets of air or fluid in the body.”
The paramedic requires 1,200 of accredited education, and provide the most advanced care of all EMS professionals. According to Esdorn, all the training is accumulative.
“To become a Paramedic a person must first be an EMT,” he said. “A Paramedic’s education is accredited by the Commission on Allied Health Education Accreditation.”
This curriculum includes several areas of study from allergy and immunology, gynecology and obstetrics to cardio-pulmonary care.
“Along with these areas of study we must know our state standard drug list, which includes a total of 96 drugs,” Esdorn said. “This also goes along with 120 different state mandated emergency medical procedures.”
After completing their EMS education, individuals desiring to obtain a license to provide that care in their state often obtain National EMS Certification.
National EMS Certification is delivered by the National Registry of EMTs (NREMT) and is available in all 50 States. Currently 46 states, the District of Columbia and military branches including the Army and Air Force require successful completion of the National EMS Certification exam as part of their initial licensure process.
“The primary purpose of National EMS Certification is to protect the public by assuring EMS providers can safely and effectively practice at the entry-level, Esdorn said. “No EMS provider can work with National EMS Certification alone; all must also possess a state license to work.”
While Berkeley County EMS is currently accepting applications for part-time positions only, Esdorn said interested individuals are encouraged to apply.
“In this profession the turnover rate is high,” he said. “People will come and then find opportunities elsewhere.”
For more information on applying for a position with Berkeley County EMS, visit the Berkeley County website at www.berkeleycountysc.gov.