An EMT’s life is a crazy ride

Want a fast-paced job in health care? Do you like the idea of helping all kinds of patients? A job as a paramedic or emergency medical technician might be the right fit for you.

K.C. Jones of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians said many in the field enjoy its variety: “We may be going to the nursing home and picking up Grandma Moses for the 15th time, but something different will happen.”

But EMTs and paramedics play separate roles.

EMTs give patients limited care, such as administering oxygen and injecting epinephrine. Paramedics can do some things EMTs can’t, like provide medication and insert breathing tubes.

EMT training programs are offered at special academies, community colleges or vocational schools and include about 150 hours of training. Paramedic programs include about 1,500 hours of classroom time and internships.

All prospective paramedics and EMTs need state or national certification. Many paramedic programs only enroll those who are already certified EMTs.

Delaware County Community College offers a semester-long EMT training program. Its paramedic training program lasts six semesters and results in an associate’s degree.

Since paramedics aren’t paid well, program director Elaine Karr said, they have to be passionate about their jobs.

The field also needs people who can think quickly, work under stress and treat patients in a nonjudgmental way.

“Paramedics don’t see color or religion,” Karr said. “What they see is that everyone bleeds the same.”

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