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VOL. 35 | NO. 23 | Friday, June 10, 2011

Ambulance duty just one aspect of being an EMT

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Recent floods and tornados in and around Middle Tennessee have created an increased interest in public safety careers. Besides police and firefighter positions, emergency medial technicians (EMTs) are a big part of this public safety network.

EMTs are involved with the many facets of aiding and rescuing the general public. They are employed by government agencies, including those in city, county or state, as well as the private sector, such as medical centers.

EMTs are one of the first people to respond to a medical emergency. Upon arrival, they quickly evaluate the condition of any victim and determine appropriate action. They will treat patients and, if necessary, prepare and transport them to a medical treatment center. An EMT often drives the emergency vehicle, while another provides medical treatment to the patient.

Once at the medical facility, they may help move the patient to a treatment room and provide their medical observations to the medical staff. They may continue to treat the patient at the medical facility.

EMTs also provide non-emergency services, including transporting patients from one facility to another. They sometimes work almost exclusively in a medical facility.

A significant number of EMTs work for private ambulatory companies and are called as needed. Others work for local fire departments and related response units. Medical facilities and hospitals employ a large number. EMTS are found mostly in medium and large metropolitan areas such as Nashville. Smaller communities often have volunteer units.

Becoming an EMT requires formal training and certification. Many states require registration with a National Registry. EMTs usually are required to be re-registered every two years after satisfying continued educational courses.

An EMT must master emergency medical procedures involved with trauma, shock, respiratory functions, cardiac situations, bleeding, broken bones, childbirth and more. They must know how to operate medical equipment, including stretchers, splints, IVs, oxygen systems, defibrillators and many others. They must know how to perform medical procedures such as CPR.

Tennessee has three levels of licensure for EMTs: EMT-Basic, EMT-IV and paramedic. All courses used to teach are based upon the State of Tennessee’s curriculum for the each level. The higher the level, the more knowledge and proficiency the EMT has in emergency situations.

U.S. Department of Labor figures show the median annual salary for an EMT in ambulatory care is approximately $28,000, while the median salary for those in the public sector is about $35,000. This does not include overtime.

Demand for EMTs is expected to grow over the next decade. An older U.S. population will have a greater need for all types of medical services including emergency.

Many EMTs use their skills and experience to go on to other medical professions. It is not uncommon to see them become nurses, physician assistants and doctors.

For people interested in helping others, often in life and death situations, an EMT position may be just what the doctor ordered. It can be highly stressful, but very rewarding for the right person.

Check out www.health.state.tn.us/EMS/index.htm for more information.

M.B. Owens is a Nashville-based columnist and journalist with a decade of experience writing on employment topics and business. He can be reached at mariusowens@aol.com.

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