T Nation

Any EMTs or Paramedics Out There?


I'm thinking about changing careers and am looking into becoming a certified EMT and eventually a paramedic. Any advice? What do you think is the future for job growth? Would a basic EMT course at a local community college be the best place to start? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks all!!


It depends.... what do u do now? How do u deal with stress? U need to have a really good stress reaction. I have seen a lot of really SMART people who REALLY wanted to be in EMS REALLY bad... but some things cannot be learned. I some of the best emt's I know aren't even usually good at most things... but they are amazing EMT's.

I was an EMT for 5 years and I have been a paramedic now for 3 years. BEST JOB in the world. It's not about smarts or studying or being a bad ass. U gotta have the right personality or it will eat u alive.I have watched a lot of people come and go. U should go do a few rides with your local fire dept or ambulance service. Most will let u if u sign a release. Do more than one ride. U need to see the variety.

The ups and downs. Sometimes u will be bored for hours... sometimes u will be so busy u don't get a chance to eat or pee for 10 hours or more. It tends to be kind of extreme. If u are into extreme it might be a good job for u.Good luck.


I'm in IT, but to be honest I'm not the best at handling stress. I think I'm at a point in life where I want to do sonething where I can make a difference. I can't see being a cubicle prisoner the rest of my life. That ride along sounds like a good idea, though. Thanks.


Stress reaction is VERY important. If daily stress bothers u, imagine a car wreck with multiple patients.... a dead baby.... or a psych patient that has a great idea about chewing on your arm..

But u never know. Do the rides. U might shock yourself. U might be better than u think.Only one way to find out. But dealing with stress is the key. People think paramedics save lives.People think it's what we do. It does happen - sometimes.Most of the time the results are grim.
What we do is bring sanity to a scene.We come to provide calmness.If we get there and can't handle the stress of the sittuation- that's when people REALLY freak out and things get much worse. If the emt's and medics look confused and stressed - the patient knows he's FUCKED. Even if u are stressed and u know the patient is DOOMED.. u gotta be able to fake it because things will get worse if u can't control the sittuation.

There are a TON of other ways to break free from your cube and help people.Try the ride.. u might be better than u think. If not, try to look for other options.


medicj, great advice!

The ride along will tell you much, I highly recommend it. I highly recommend that if you are doing it for a paycheck only, you are looking at the wrong field. You're better off looking for work doing something you love doing (we're at our jobs at least 1/2 of our time, why be unhappy!) and remember: 1- Medics are VASTLY underpaid, especially considering the level of hazard that comes with the job; 2-People in it only for the money generally don't do well in it, 3-You can at times work yourself to the bone, and if you don't really like the work, 12-16 hours of this shift after shift after long long shift will really really suck.

Be sure you can hold your own in a crisis management situation...if you are the type to be caught in the middle of a brewing fight between a group of huge drunk guys and are able to diffuse the situation with your interpersonal and negotiation skills, then you will make an excellent EMT. If you are the type to quickly walk away, almost pissing your pants, this isn't the field for you.

Not only are there medical and patient safety issues to consider, but also your own personal safety issues as well- oncoming speeding cars, violent family members, gang activity, psychotic people, patients with weapons, exposure to copious infections bodily fluids (consider the AIDS-dementia patient with projectile vomiting of blood and watery bloody diarrhea while you are starting an IV in the back of an enclosed ambulance space- not an exaggeration, this happens a lot). Remember you will go into scenes that are not controlled, such as the scene of gang violence, car accidents, into peoples' homes, exposure to hazardous conditions, dead bodies, etc.

Now, if knowing all of this, you are thinking Where Do I Sign Up?....then welcome to the EMS field, my friend, you will make a fine EMT...


I have been a E.M.T. for three years now but I only work in a E.R. not on a rig. It takes a certain personality to do E.M.S. work but we have all kind's of personality's my preference is to go into nursing emergency med. To me there is more directions to go with Nursing as a paramedic you either stay a medic or become a supervisor of go to fire and fire is realy difficult to get into. Any way's give it a shot you will know right away if you like it or not you either do or you dont there is no in between.


Look up Teach for America.


i suggest being a registered nurse over an emt aor paramedic.
paramedics are the go to guys, but are hugely underpaid world wide. they will continue to be underpaid for years imho becasue of the way things are and who pays them.

another point is if your goal is to become a firefighter being a paramdeic first will open tons of doors to apply to. note firefighters get paid very little as well, unless you're in iraq where the gas boy gets 80k. but firefighter/paramedics do get paid better.


Let me say, yes most are underpaid and if you are going into the field for the money -- well then dont! There are plenty of Firefighter/Medics out there already that are just in it for the money. I think that you have to want to do this job, because I can guarantee that you will see thing that you dont ever want to see. It is difficult to tell a mother on Christmas morning that her 18 month old is dead....but it does happen. So be prepared for the mental side of things -- those stay with you for life.

IF you think that you can deal with that as well -- then as someone else said -- Welcome aboard.