What Does it Take to Be a Paramedic?

Many people wonder what is it like to be a Paramedic. Some common questions asked of me are: How do you handle all the stress? How long do you have to go to school for? Is the work hard to do?

I will answer these questions as best as I can in this article today. Starting off with the education of being a Paramedic. Each state has its own variations of training emergency medical technicians, but I will utilize the National Registry Of Emergency Medical Technicians basic guidelines.

Before taking a Paramedic course, you are required to take an EMT- Basic course. This course covers Basic Life Support (BLS) procedures of handling emergencies. You learn about the anatomy of the body, how all these organs work together, and what to do when one of them is not working properly. Some of these skills include: administer oxygen, administer some medications, vital signs, and more.

You will also learn on how to treat trauma. Trauma is damage cause to the body from some type of force. Usually from car accidents and falls. The skills taught at this level include splinting, controlling bleeding, spinal stabilization, and extrication (removing someone from a dangerous situation).

The EMT-Basic course is generally 3 months long and includes some time spent in a local emergency room to apply the skills learned in a more controlled environment. This helps prepare you for the actual injuries and sickness you will see while working in the real world.

After successfully completing the EMT-Basic course and receiving your license you may proceed to take the EMT-Paramedic course. This course teaches all the BLS skills and knowledge into much greater detail and adds Advanced Life Support (ALS) skills. Some of these skills include: Intravenous (IV) Medication, Cardiac Monitoring, Endotracheal (ET) intubation, and much more.

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You will learn about medications in great detail. From their name to how they work on the body and what the correct dosages are. They will also teach you several formulas to use to properly figure out the correct drug dosage to give patients.

The Paramedic course on average takes about 12 months to complete. You spend 6 months in the classroom learning all the knowledge and skills to be a Paramedic. Then you spend 6 months in a hospital applying these newly learned skills so you are fully prepared when you start your career as a Paramedic.

The next most popular question is how do we handle the stress? It is a highly stressful job due to the range of illness and injuries you see. One of the most difficult for me was always a child. You must be ready to talk about stressful calls with someone. Talking and sharing your feelings on something is the easiest way to handle any problems you may have dealing with a particular call you may have completed. They also have special teams called Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) that are trained on how to help public safety personnel deal with any incident that may have been particularly stressful for them. The much-needed support is there for everyone who chooses to enter the public safety field.

Is the work hard? Yes. It requires the ability to think quickly in situations that may not be the best of environments to work in. Strength to lift and move patients that are not able to move themselves due to illness or injury. Some days are harder then others, but it is not all bad. The job is also very rewarding. Going home at the end of the day knowing you made a difference in someone’s life is a great feeling. Saving a life is an even greater feeling. The rewards far outweigh the hard work any day.

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For more information on working in the Emergency Medical Services field please visit http://www.nremt.org.

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