Paramedic Job Description

The Job Description of a Paramedic

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Paramedic Job Description

Wellington Free Ambulance Paramedics lift injured …—111 Emergency (Flickr.com)

A career as a paramedic is an extremely challenging one. The paramedic is typically one of the first responders to a medical emergency or other catastrophe. They will provide emergency medical attention to victims of various traumas, and will help to stabilize a patient until they reach a more extensive medical facility. The paramedic will usually be attached to an ambulance unit that works with other emergency vehicles like rescue choppers, fire trucks, and often police vehicles.

The Paramedic’s Job Outlook

The demand for paramedics has increased almost exponentially since the idea of patient transportation was first conceived. Ambulances are constantly in demand, and with the introduction of rescue choppers, the call for qualified paramedics has only increased.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that nearly 20,000 new paramedics will be employed by 2018. The job prospects are currently high, and opportunities are on the rise.

There is also a high demand for part-time or volunteer paramedics in both rural and metropolitan areas. Those who choose to serve in this way won’t receive the same salary as a full-fledged certified paramedic; however, participating in this way provides a new paramedic with invaluable experience before going on to a full-time position.

A Day in the Life of a Paramedic

A paramedic wears many hats. Sure, he’s an ambulance driver; but he also plays the role of doctor, nurse, counselor, and problem solver. And those are just the roles that all paramedics have in common in their day-to-day job of providing emergency medical care for the sick and injured.

Paramedics who specialize in a certain field will be expected to handle even more. Those who work for the fire department, for example, are of course called on to provide medical care on the ambulance, offering IVs, EKGs, and medications. Some days, however, they might have to pull double duty on the fire engine, hauling a hose at the scene of a fire. On other days they might be on the scene of traffic accidents, pulling apart mangled cars to get to the trapped passengers.

Some paramedics are also being used as nurse substitutes in certain settings. Some hospitals and nursing homes, and even industrial settings are finding that paramedics make valuable assets to their teams, as they typically attend school for nearly as long as some nurses, and often have license to perform a wider variety of medical and invasive procedures.

In addition, many 911 calls aren’t even related to emergency medical or first aid conditions. Some patients call 911 for help with mental issues or emotional distress. A paramedic will be expected to handle problems like these until the patient can be handed over to the appropriate medical professional.

Some people confuse EMTs and paramedics, and that’s understandable. Both are typically on the scene of an accident or emergency; however, the paramedic is the highest level of pre-hospital care, while the EMT provides more basic care. Basic EMTs will bandage wounds, treat accident victims for shock, stabilize blood pressure, and provide assistance for heart attack victims. While a paramedic may perform these tasks, they are also qualified to use complex medical equipment and can administer drugs as necessary.

In most cases, a paramedic can even be talked through more complicated procedures when necessary. When a complicated emergency situation arises, the paramedic will maintain radio contact with a dispatcher or physician who will provide the needed direction until senior medical personnel can take over.

The various tasks performed on the job do vary somewhat, depending on where the paramedic works. Certain states give paramedics greater license than others; however, all have the skill and authority to provide medications, start IVs, read EKGs, insert breathing tubes, defibrillate patients, and even perform certain invasive procedures. Their freedoms in practice depend largely on the EMS system in which they work, as well as on their geographic location.

Some Handy Skills

The daily work of a paramedic can be extremely demanding as they are called upon to perform in life and death situations. In some cases, the job is hugely rewarding, such as when a baby is born or a person’s life is saved due to the paramedic’s quick response. In other cases, a patient simply cannot be saved despite the paramedic’s best efforts, and these tragedies often weigh heavily on them.

The work can also be backbreaking and is often dangerous, and the paramedic will need to be respond at a moment’s notice, whether they feel ready or not. Thus, a paramedic will need to be strong – both physically and emotionally. They need a cool head under pressure, as the job will present high levels of stress on a regular basis.

In spite of the stress, danger, hard work, and emotional strain, the paramedic will need to show a genuine concern for his patients. Patients will often be frightened or in shock, and will need a likeable, patient and caring paramedic to help them through their crisis.

Further Opportunities

Ultimately, the paramedic’s career ladder is a short one. Many paramedics begin their career as volunteers with local fire brigades or medical centers and go on to full-time employment in ambulatory care. The career is a fairly popular one since the academic requisites are minimal; however, there is also very little opportunity for advancement.

Some do opt into specialized fields, such as working with police units, with search and rescue teams, or in aviation medicine. Others choose to pursue advanced learning and go on to careers as nurses, dispatchers, or physicians’ assistants. Others still branch into education and become clinical instructors for new paramedics. A few even switch to sales and marketing of medical equipment in the health care industry.

While the career path of a paramedic is a limited one – and often sorely underpaid – it is still one of the noblest and most respected professions in the world today. It is a career focused on helping those who need help most, and this can be extremely rewarding.

 Related Resources:

Diploma Guide Paramedics

About.com Paramedic