Is an EMT the Same as a Paramedic?

Many people confuse emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics with one other. After all, they’re both present in emergencies and seemingly do the same things. However, these two emergency medical services (EMS) roles are different. EMTs can only provide entry-level care, while paramedics are trained to handle more advanced and complex interventions–similar to those administered by emergency room staff.

What Is an EMT?

An EMT is an EMS professional who gives basic medical care to patients outside or en route to a hospital. Their scope of work is limited to assessing patients, performing first-aid treatments, reporting conditions to hospitals, and operating ambulances. They rarely do anything invasive, but there are some exceptions, like giving an epinephrine injection to someone having a severe allergic reaction. 

To become an EMT, a person must take an EMT course (and, ideally test prep for EMT), pass the NREMT (National Registry of EMTs) exam, and obtain certification and licensure to practice.

What Does an EMT Do?

How demanding is being an EMT? It can get pretty taxing, especially because these professionals often work long hours and in stressful situations. That said, their responsibilities aren’t as heavy as those of a paramedic.

EMTs only provide first-level care, which may include splinting injuries, administering oxygen, performing CPR, and using basic ambulance equipment. Their main purpose is to stabilize patients until they can be treated by higher-level healthcare providers.

Is being an EMT enjoyable, then? Yes, it’s both exciting and fulfilling. There’s always an opportunity to learn, advance, and make connections, and EMTs get to do the honorable task of helping people in need every day.

What Is a Paramedic?

A paramedic is a medical staff who specializes in emergency treatment. They work alongside doctors, nurses, or physician’s assistants to provide life-saving interventions. You’ll see them in action at the scene of an emergency and in an ambulance en route to a medical facility, and they and they often carry out their tasks even when the patient arrives at the emergency room. They’re authorized to use advanced ambulance equipment and perform skin-breaking procedures.

What Does a Paramedic Do?

A paramedic is a first responder at the scene of an emergency. They’re tasked to evaluate critical medical conditions and perform the necessary life-saving treatments to stabilize patients until they can be turned over to a doctor. Their usual tasks include starting airway care, administering IVs, and reading ECGs.

The Differences Between EMTs and Paramedics

EMTs and paramedics differ in many ways beyond just their responsibilities. They also have contrasting qualifications, education and training, and salary and job opportunities.

Aspiring EMTs don’t need any previous medical experience to become an EMT. The minimum requirements typically only stipulate that the applicant is eighteen years old, has a high school diploma or GED, and has a drivers license. Those who hope to become paramedics, however, must first become an EMT and have at least six months of experience working as one. 

EMT students must complete a corresponding course that’s at least 170 hours in length and covers basic medical interventions. Paramedic students, on the other hand, must pass a more intense and comprehensive program that is between 1,200 to 1,800 hours long.

Both EMTs and paramedics must pass an NREMT exam and obtain certification and licensure to enter the field. Once they do, EMTs can start working with a salary ranging between $28,000 to $47,000. Meanwhile, paramedics earn more at a range of $35,000 to $55,000. In many cases, these numbers can be higher because many full-time EMS providers pick up regular overtime work, allowing them to earn more.

How to Become an EMT

Becoming an EMT starts with enrolling in an EMT course. These programs are very accelerated, so it’s good to supplement your studies with resources like our Video Vault, which explains key EMT concepts into easy-to-understand chunks to give you a more solid foundation of EMS. Start your journey to becoming an EMT–and later on, a paramedic–by getting lifetime access to the Video Vault today!

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