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What Do EMTs/Paramedics Do?

Emergency medical technicians (or EMTs) and paramedics are the people who arrive on the scene--minutes after an accident or medical emergency--to give immediate care to critically ill or injured people. Specific tasks include:

  • Responding to emergency calls, driving a rescue vehicle and following instructions from an emergency medical dispatcher;
  • Giving first-aid treatment and life-support care to sick or injured people;
  • Monitoring a patient’s condition;
  • Assessing the nature and extent of an illness or injury to plan emergency care;
  • Transporting patients to medical facilities;
  • Notifying proper authorities in cases of death;
  • Ensuring that the ambulance and equipment are in working order;
  • Reassuring patients and bystanders and maintaining order.

How Do I Become an EMT/Paramedic?

Emergency medical technicians need to be trained in a program approved by the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Emergency Medical Services. In addition, Virginia requires a state EMS provider certification. EMT-Basic or EMT-1 is the first level of skills required to work in the emergency medical system.

Virginia has a number of prerequisites for admission to EMT-Basic programs. Students must: Be proficient in reading, writing and speaking English; be at least 16 years old at the start of the training program (Students younger than 18 need permission from their parents or guardians); have never been convicted of a felony involving any sexual crime; have not be convicted of any other felonies within the last 5 years; Have a current Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification. After they pass basic level, EMTs can progress through the Intermediate, Advanced (Paramedic) and Instructor levels. EMTs must take refresher courses and re-certify on a regular basis. The EMT courses that are approved by the Office of Emergency Medical Services also qualify students for registration with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

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