What Drugs Do Paramedics Carry?

As you prepare to take your National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam, you need to familiarize yourself with the exam’s content. This includes understanding the medications and drugs paramedics carry. Common medicines carried by paramedics include: medications for managing cardiac issues, pain relievers, allergic reaction drugs, and drugs for controlling seizures.

Feel overwhelmed by how much you need to learn? You can find a comprehensive online paramedic pharmacology study guide from The Paramedic Coach with all the relevant practice tests, questions, worksheets, drug cards, and audio and video files to help you prepare for your exam.

Some possible questions you can expect in your NREMT exam include: What gear do paramedics carry? What drugs do paramedics carry? What are the top medications administered by paramedics? This article focuses on the main drugs carried by paramedics when responding to a medical emergency. 

The Top Ten Drugs Carried by Paramedics

The specific drugs paramedics carry vary based on their protocols and the regulations that apply to their jurisdiction. Here are the most common drugs carried by paramedics in the United States:

Epinephrine

Epinephrine treats severe anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) and cardiac (heart) issues. Can an EMT administer epinephrine? In most American states, EMTs are allowed to administer this medicine. 

However, some states, like Kansas, allow those with EMT-Basic certification to administer the drug under strict conditions. Therefore, an EMT’s ability to administer epinephrine to patients depends on their jurisdiction.

Dopamine

Dopamine can be administered intravenously (through a vein) to keep a patient’s blood pressure normal, especially if they’re experiencing shock or cardiac arrest.

Aspirin

Because aspirin is a blood thinner, it’s given to patients who show signs of a heart attack to prevent the formation of blood clots. It prevents the production of specific natural substances in your blood that cause clotting.

Glucose

Glucose is an essential medicine that is commonly administered through an injection. It’s used to treat low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in diabetic patients.

Albuterol

Also known as a ‘short-acting bronchodilator,’ Albuterol helps treat patients with asthma and other respiratory problems. It works by relaxing the smooth muscles in a patient’s airway, allowing them to breathe normally.

Morphine

Morphine is a pain reliever administered to patients experiencing severe pain. It’s also given to patients at the end of life to relieve excess pain. This drug is a powerful opioid analgesic that prevents pain signals from being transmitted to the central nervous system.

Nitroglycerin

Nitroglycerin is an FDA-approved vasodilatory drug that provides a reprieve from anginous chest pain. It’s mainly administered when a patient shows signs of acute chest pain that is similar to coronary artery disease and heart failure.

Benzodiazepines

Most Benzodiazepines, like diazepam and lorazepam, are used to treat seizures and various anxiety disorders.

Amiodarone

Amiodarone belongs to a group of drugs known as antiarrhythmics. It is administered to patients with symptoms of irregular heart rhythms.

Naloxone (Narcan)

With the increasing cases of opioid overdose in the US, paramedics are required to carry Naloxone, which helps halt opioid overdoses. This opioid antagonist attaches itself to opioid receptors, reversing and blocking the effects of the other opioid.

Closing Thoughts

The drugs paramedics carry can vary depending on the applicable protocols and patient needs. Furthermore, paramedics must undergo the relevant training and pass the NREMT exam before being allowed to administer these drugs. 

Reach out to The Paramedic Coach today to learn how you can prepare and pass your NREMT exam the first time!

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