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Nature of EMS Work

In an emergency, a 911 Operator will typically dispatch an ambulance with Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics to the scene. Once on scene, they often work with police and fire fighters. They assess the nature of the patient’s condition while trying to determine whether the patient has any pre-existing medical conditions. Following medical protocols and guidelines, they provide appropriate emergency care and, when necessary, transport the patient. Some Paramedics are trained to treat patients with minor injuries on the scene of an accident or they may treat them at their home without transporting them to a medical facility. Emergency treatment is carried out under the medical direction of physicians.

People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of EMTs and Paramedics. Incidents like automobile accidents, heart attacks, slips, falls, and childbirth require immediate medical attention. They povide this vital service as they care for and transport the sick or injured to a medical facility.

EMTs and Paramedics use special equipment, such as backboards, to immobilize patients before placing them on stretchers and securing them in the ambulance for transport. One EMT or  Paramedic drives while the other monitors the patient’s vital signs and gives additional care as needed.

At the facility, they transfer patients, report observations, summarize treatments, and may provide additional emergency treatment. After each run, they replace used supplies and check equipment. 

EMTs and Paramedics also provide transportation for patients to and from a  medical facility. Patients often need to be transferred to a hospital that specialize in treating their injury or illness or to a nursing home. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certifies emergency medical service providers at five levels: First Responder; EMT-Basic; EMT-Intermediate, which has two levels called 1985 and 1999; and Paramedic. Some states have their own certification programs and use distinct names and titles.

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EMTs are  trained to care for patients at the scene of an accident and while transporting patients by ambulance to the hospital under medical direction. An EMT-Basic has the emergency skills to assess a patient’s condition and manage respiratory, cardiac, and trauma emergencies.


EMT-Intermediates have more advanced training. What they can do varies greatly from state to state.


A dispatcher answers incoming emergency and non-emergency calls and dispatches calls to the appropriate vehicles to assure optimal response times. They also relay patient medical history to hospitals. 


EMT- Paramedics provide the most extensive pre-hospital care. They may administer drugs orally and intravenously, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs), perform endotracheal intubations, and use monitors and other equipment.