What Is the Difference Between an EMT and Paramedic?

If you’re planning to pursue a career as an emergency medical service provider, you might have trouble differentiating between a paramedic and an emergency medical technician (EMT) and knowing if enrolling in an EMT test prep program is the right course of action.

This article discusses how an EMT is different from a paramedic to give you a better understanding of each role.

What Is an EMT?

An EMT is a medical professional who provides emergency medical care to critically ill or injured patients at the scene of an accident or health incident before they are transported to the hospital. Their medical services are meant to stabilize the patient and prevent further injuries before they get to a medical facility for comprehensive care. 

When a 911 operator receives a serious medical emergency call, they send EMTs, police officers, and firefighters to the scene. As the police officers maintain law and order at the scene, firefighters are busy putting out any fires or preventing one from occurring. At the same time, EMTs are busy examining the victims for injuries, stabilizing them, and preparing them for transportation to the hospital.

EMTs will accompany the patient to the hospital so they can monitor their condition and render any medical care needed on their way to the medical facility. They’ll also update the medical facility on the condition of the patient and the extent of their injuries so they are prepared for when the ambulance arrives.

However, these roles will vary depending on the amount of training an EMT has completed. For instance, once you complete the basic EMT level of training and testing, your role will include:

  • Responding to medical emergency calls    
  • Examining patients and administering medical aid
  • Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and preventing excessive bleeding
  • Taking care of the patient to prevent further injuries or shock
  • Stabilizing and monitoring the patient on the way to the hospital
  • Updating the hospital about the patient’s condition
  • Generating and maintaining the patient’s record

How long it takes to become an EMT will depend on whether you are enrolled in a full-time or part-time training program. Basic EMT training usually takes 120 hours over three months or one semester to complete.

Once you’re finished training, you need to pass a National Registry for Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam to become certified as an EMT. 

What Is a Paramedic?

A paramedic is a medical professional who is also trained to provide emergency medical care to accident victims and critically ill patients at the scene. Similar to EMTs, paramedics render medical care to patients at the scene and on their way to the hospital.

Comparing EMTs and Paramedics

Although both professionals offer similar services, they’re not the same. Paramedics are more skilled and have completed more coursework than EMTs. In fact, many EMTs eventually go back to school to get more training so they can become paramedics.

Most paramedic programs recommend that you have at least six months to one year of experience working as an EMT. Training as a paramedic involves between 1,200 and 1,800 hours of additional training, on top of the 120 hours it takes to complete basic EMT training.

Paramedics must demonstrate the ability to comfortably use advanced equipment in emergency rooms and ambulances. They are also trained in starting intravenous lines and managing compromised airways.

Both EMTs and paramedics respond to 911 emergency calls, work in ambulances, and assist in emergency rooms where they handle patients with urgent medical needs. But paramedics can respond to emergency calls alone in ‘fly cars’–SUV units that meet EMTs en route to hospitals to help stabilize patients. 

Paramedics can also be found in places such as rescue aircraft, ocean rescue ships, cruise ships, and special public events like music festivals.

Learn More About Different Emergency Responders

If emergency services sound like intriguing and rewarding work, reach out to The Paramedic Coach to find out more about these exciting career paths!

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