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Careers in Emergency Medical Services Technology

What is it?
Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel are usually the first health care professionals on the scene of an accident or called to assist someone with a sudden, serious illness. It is their job to provide immediate care to the ill and injured. (Source:

Typically dispatched to the scene by a 911 operator, EMS personnel often work with the police and fire department. Once they arrive, they determine the nature and extent of the patient’s condition while trying to ascertain whether the patient has preexisting medical problems. Following strict rules and guidelines, they give appropriate emergency care and, when necessary, transport the patient. EMTs and paramedics may use special equipment, such as backboards, to immobilize patients before placing them on stretchers and securing them in the ambulance for transport to a medical facility

Will I get a job?
Employment of emergency medical technicians and paramedics is expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations through 2014, as full-time paid EMTs and paramedics replace unpaid volunteers. As population and urbanization increase, and as a large segment of the population—aging baby boomers—becomes more likely to have medical emergencies, demand will increase for EMTs and paramedics.

What will I get paid?
Median annual earnings of EMTs and paramedics were $25,310 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $19,970 and $33,210. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of EMTs and paramedics in May 2004 were: Local government: $27,710 General medical and surgical hospitals: $26,590 Other ambulatory health care services: $23,130

Educational and Career Pathways
The specific responsibilities of EMTs and paramedics depend on their level of qualification and training. To determine this, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) registers emergency medical service (EMS) providers at four levels: First Responder, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and EMT-Paramedic. Some states, however, do their own certification and use numeric ratings from 1 to 4 to distinguish levels of proficiency. (Source:

Where to study in the northern Virginia region:
Northern Virginia Community College Medical Education Campus 6699 Springfield Center Drive Springfield, Va. 22150 Contact: Holly Frost, Emergency Medical Tech Assistant Dean, 703-822-6560, email:

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