What Does an EMT Do?

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) provide emergency medical services (EMS) and typically work on ambulances or as part of the fire department. The majority of EMS staff are either certified as EMTs or paramedics. 

EMT certification requirements are extensive because these professionals dedicate their lives to keeping people alive following an accident or medical emergency. This is why hopeful EMTs must prepare with the right training for the EMT exam–everything you learn in an EMT certification course will apply to real-life scenarios!

Beyond what can be learned in an EMT course (such as medical expertise), EMTs need to have strong communication skills, compassion, and problem-solving skills. If you’re passionate about helping others and saving lives, you might just have what it takes to become an EMT.

What Is an EMT?

The majority of EMTs work on ambulances, which means the bulk of their shifts are spent assessing injuries and illnesses in emergency situations. They respond to emergency calls, provide life-saving care at the scene of the incident, and often transport patients to medical facilities for further care.

EMTs are trained to assess a patient’s condition and manage circumstances surrounding the emergency (such as clearing the area and providing care to injured or ill individuals).

Other duties EMTs are responsible for include:

  • Taking inventory and replacing or cleaning medical supplies or equipment at the beginning of the shift and after use
  • Responding to calls for medical assistance
  • Assessing the conditions of patients at the scene of the call
  • Determining which treatments are necessary for patients
  • Providing life-saving treatment, such as life support care or first aid, if needed
  • Preparing and transporting patients to a hospital or emergency department of a healthcare facility
  • Documenting and reporting observations, treatment provided, and other relevant information to other relevant healthcare staff

EMTs can work in any field that involves responding to emergencies, and don’t always work on ambulances. Many EMTs work for law enforcement and fire departments, for example.

EMTs Versus Paramedics

EMTs and paramedics are often confused for one another because these roles work closely together in most cases. The main difference between an EMT and a paramedic is the training and certification levels they have completed.

Paramedic students complete a program that is between 1,200 and 1,800 of coursework, which can take anywhere between twelve months to two years to complete, depending if they go the certificate route or the associate degree route. You must complete EMT-certification before working towards your paramedic certifications, and in some cases, you may need to complete college-level anatomy and physiology courses before admission to a paramedic program.

To apply for an EMT program, you do not need to have completed any prior EMS certifications or courses.

How to Become Certified as an EMT

While the prerequisites for applying for paramedic programs differ from applying for EMT programs, EMT certification still requires dedication and a thorough understanding of the material. Unlike other training or classes you may have taken in school, EMT training should prepare you for what you will confront on the job.

EMT students must have completed a high school diploma or equivalent education requirements (such as a GED) and be eighteen years or older to enroll in an EMT certification course. You do not need to have any previous medical experience to enroll in these courses.

You must complete a course that is a minimum of 170 hours in length and from an accredited EMT certifier. If you complete a course that is not accredited, your state may not recognize you as a certified EMT.

After you complete the course, you must pass two exams: a cognitive (knowledge) and psychomotor (skills) exam. The written exam is provided by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). You must pass both exams within two years of completing your training.

What Will I Learn In the Course?

In an EMT course, you will learn:

  • Medical terms
  • Basic Life Support interventions
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • First-aid
  • Airway management
  • How to assess patients
  • Ambulance operations
  • How to respond to medical emergencies
  • How to respond to trauma emergencies
  • How to respond to emergencies involving infants and children

Courses are divided up into several modules, and time spent in class usually consists of lectures and videos with a quiz at the end of each module. Many students say that the course material can feel really dense, especially with complicated medical terminology.

Reach Success With The Paramedic Coach

Not everyone has the luxury of time and money to retake a course multiple times before starting their career. Working as an EMT is meaningful, rewarding, and can open the door for new opportunities. For tips and tricks to passing the EMT course, check out our exclusive Video Vault today!

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