Emergency Medical Technician

An emergency medical technician (EMT) is a person who delivers the initial medical treatment to persons in crisis situations. Traditionally, EMTs are part of the medical team that travels by ambulance or helicopter to the site of the emergency situation. The most common medical crises to which EMTs are called include: injuries acquired during automobile accidents and roadway and home births; sudden myocardial infarctions (heart attacks); and wounds resulting from interpersonal violence (such as gun shots and stab wounds).

Emergency medical technicians must be trained and certified. There are five levels of EMT training, from First Responders, who are certified in basic emergency medical care, to EMT-4 (paramedics), who are certified to administer drugs, read electrocardiograms, and use other advanced equipment in providing prehospital care. The training process is progressive, starting with EMT 1 (which includes First Responder training), requiring approximately 120 hours of training, through the paramedic level, requiring up to two years of training. Hospitals, trauma centers, private ambulance companies, and fire and police departments employ emergency medical technicians. In fact, many firefighters are also certified EMTs.

In order to be well prepared for EMT training, a strong background in the sciences is important. High school courses such as biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics are essential prerequisites for EMT training. A good driver's education class is crucial as well, since many EMTs are also ambulance drivers who must negotiate challenging roadway situations in order to reach the crisis scene quickly and safely.

A career in emergency medicine can be very challenging. EMTs must maintain the difficult balance between compassion and emotional fortitude. Strong leadership and interpersonal skills are a must for an emergency medical technician. However, despite the challenges, it is very rewarding to help people and save lives daily.

SEE ALSO Doctor, Family Practice ; Doctor, Specialist ; Medical Assistant, Nurse

Susan T. Rouse


New York Department of Labor. CareerZone. <http://www.explore.cornell.edu/newcareerzone/profile.asp?onet=32508&cluster=4> .

U.S. Department of Labor. "Occupational Outlook Handbook." Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, annually. <http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos101.htm> .

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