Paramedics evaluate injuries and provide emergency, on-scene medical care. These emergency medical professionals may also be called to rescue trapped individuals. Paramedics transport sick and injured people to hospitals or other medical facilities.

Emergency diagnostics and treatment are at the heart of this profession, often determining whether a patient survives or not. Paramedics work as part of a team, commonly under serious pressure. They must communicate and effectively support a patient while making preparations for transport. In some cases, paramedics work cooperatively with law enforcement in emergency situations.

Paramedics typically perform any or all of the following job tasks:

  • Assess patient injury or illness and create an emergency treatment plan.
  • Provide first aid and emergency care in a non-hospital setting.
  • Immobilize and prepare patient for transport.
  • Diagnose and treat patients on-scene and during ambulance transport.
  • Communicate with dispatcher effectively to share patient condition and receive additional treatment instructions.
  • Operate medical equipment such as EKGs and external defibrillators.
  • Observe, record and communicate patient condition to ER doctors and nurses.
  • Communicate and comfort patients and family members.
  • Clean and decontaminate ambulance and equipment.
  • Restock ambulance supplies.
  • Transport patients in a safe but effective manner.

Paramedic Degrees

Paramedics represent the highest level of emergency care technicians. Specific training equivalent to an associates degree is required to become a paramedic. The training program provides essential medical education and preparation for the state licensing requirements.

In all states, paramedics are required to successfully pass a licensing exam. Some states utilize their own test while others use the NRMRT examination. Most states also require retesting every 2-3 years along with additional training for paramedics.

Paramedic Salary*

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job prospects for paramedics are good through 2018, due somewhat to the need to replace volunteers with paid personnel. The BLS also notes that the median hourly rate for these emergency medical professionals in 2008 was $14.10.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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