You see them on TV shows. You see them in movies. You see (and hear) them speeding past you, barreling towards an emergency ahead. They are Paramedics and EMTs – the men and women charged with the mission of saving lives, whenever, wherever, and however. EMTs and Paramedics both wear uniforms, work out of ambulances, and help patients. So what is the difference between an EMT and a Paramedic?
Both EMTs and Paramedics have extensive EMS training, and are prepared to transport patients and administer pre-hospital emergency medical care. The biggest difference between an EMT and a Paramedic is the amount of EMS training they have received, and the scope of care they are allowed to practice.
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are the most common of the two. They complete EMT training course of about 120-150 hours. Paramedics log about 1,200-1,800 training hours. Both EMT and Paramedic training courses consist of classroom lectures, hands-on training, and clinical internships (working in the field alongside practicing EMTs and Paramedics).
So How Do You Become an EMT or Paramedic?
To become an EMT or Paramedic in California, you must meet four criteria, which may vary from state to state outside of California. In California, EMTs and Paramedics must:
- Meet the prerequisites of EMT or Paramedic training courses.
- Successfully complete an EMT or Paramedic training course.
- Pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam.
- Apply for and obtain certification after passing the NREMT exam.
What Does an EMT Do? What Does a Paramedic Do?
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are trained in a variety of emergency medical techniques: giving CPR, administering oxygen, preparing IV solution, supplying glucose to diabetics, providing treatment for asthma attacks and allergic reactions, and transporting patients. Paramedics are more advanced medical care providers, as they have had much more training. Paramedic training builds on EMT training, giving Paramedics the skills to administer medication, start IVs, carry out airway management, and resuscitate and stabilize patients in very critical condition.