When someone calls 911, in most cases some of the first people to arrive on the scene are paramedics. These are emergency medical professionals who have undergone extensive paramedic training to provide them with the skills needed to provide lifesaving first aid and other, more advanced forms of life support treatment as well as to transport injured or ill persons to hospitals to receive additional medical treatment.
One question that many people have about the type of training paramedics receive is whether it is the same as that taken by emergency medical technicians (or EMTs for short). As it happens, all paramedics are emergency medical technicians, but not all emergency medical technicians are paramedics. There are different levels of EMT training; in most states, these certifications are known as first responder certification, EMT – Basic certification and EMT – I85 (or EMT – Intermediate) certification. Individuals who hold these certifications and would like to become a paramedic may then enroll in a course to receive training as a paramedic, which is the highest level of emergency medical technician training.
There are two ways to become a paramedic, assuming that you already hold an EMT – Intermediate (EMT – I85) certification. These are to enroll in a certification program or to enroll in an associate degree program geared towards preparing students to sit for the NREMT paramedic certification exam. While the exact duration of certification programs vary from one state and from one school to another, these programs usually take somewhere between six months and a year to complete. An associate degree program will, like associate degree programs in other fields, take two years to complete.
Before enrolling in a paramedic course, there are some requirements which candidates must meet to be considered as prospective students. Other than holding an EMT – Intermediate certification (in some states, EMTs who hold only an EMT – Basic certification may also be able to enroll in associate programs, however), anyone interested in training as a paramedic must also have at least a high school diploma or GED, no criminal record and have no physical limitations which would prevent them from performing the duties expected of a paramedic.
The topics which may be covered during one of these courses may vary somewhat from one state to another, since different states allow paramedics to administer different types of treatment. However, in general prospective paramedic students can expect to take courses which cover topics including starting IV lines and administering medication or fluids intravenously, trauma care, pulmonology, OB/GYN as well as pediatric and geriatric medicine.
Part of paramedic training is clinical and field experience and paramedic students will also be required to log a set number of hours in the clinical setting as well as in the field working on an actual ambulance. This training is necessary to giving aspiring paramedics the thorough didactic and real world, practical experience that they need to be thoroughly prepared to handle a variety of emergency medical situations which they may encounter in the field once they begin working in the emergency medical services as a career.