EMS, EMT, & Paramedic: Career Differences Explained – define each term and explain how to become a certified EMT or Paramedic 

Are you looking for a career in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) but you don’t know if EMT or Paramedic is right for you? Here are some of the core differences and requirements explained! 

Basic Differences in Abilities and Responsibilities: 

EMTs are vital members of Emergency Medical Services and save lives every day. EMTs are often the first person on-site at a scene and are therefore the first to respond to many critical situations. That being said, there are limitations to their training and abilities in the field. 

EMTs Can:  

  • Administer Basic Life Support 
  • This means EMTs can administer CPR and other similar levels of medical care, like operating an AED, to help victims in cardiac arrest. They fulfill this role until the patient can be attended to by someone who can administer Advanced Life Support, such as paramedics, nurses, and doctors.   
  • Bandaging  
  • If there are open wounds on the scene, EMTs may bandage the wound to stop bleeding and prevent infection.  
  • Spinal Motion Restriction 
  • EMTs are able to secure the spine with equipment like cervical collars, commonly known as neck braces. 
  • Monitor Patients 
  • Once on the scene, EMTs continue monitoring patients by watching them and checking their vital signs. This is done in order to ensure patients’ conditions don’t worsen in the process of them receiving further treatment or while in transit to the hospital.  
  • Perform Basic Airway Management  
  • EMTs are trained in Basic Airway Management which means they are able to relieve choking, insert airway adjuncts, and administer basic airway maneuvers such as tilting the head and lifting the chin.  
  • Administer Basic Medications 
  • One of the major differences between EMTs and Paramedics is that EMTs are far more limited in the types of medicine they are allowed to administer to patients. EMTs are only allowed to administer Oxygen, Aspirin, nebulizers, Epinephrine, Narcan, and Oral Glucose.  

Paramedics go through a much more rigorous training process than EMTs and therefore have additional responsibilities and skills that EMTs are unable to have.  

Paramedics Can:  

  • Take charge of the scene 
  • Not every emergency call has paramedics present, but when they are there, they take charge of the scene. They assess the situation’s severity and may instruct others on what to do.  
  • Administer Advanced Life Support (ALS) 
  • ALS includes all aspects of Basic Life Support, with additional training and responsibilities. Paramedics are certified in ALS and can perform more invasive procedures and administer a wider array of medications. This is in addition to being able to render the same care as EMTs, such as doing CPR, operating an AED, and basic first aid. 
  • Monitor Patients  
  • While EMTs also monitor patients visually and through their vitals, Paramedics are also trained to not only read but also interpret EKGs.  
  • Perform Advanced Airway Management  
  • In addition to the skills of an EMT, paramedics can intubate patients and utilize advanced airway devices.  
  • Administer Medications  
  • Paramedics are allowed to administer a wide array of medications as well as insert IVs & IOs into the veins or bones, respectively.  

So what’s the difference in training time and certification for EMTs and Paramedics?  

EMT Requirements, Training and Certification:  

  • No prerequisites. 
  • At City College they must pass the “Assessment Period,” which is the first fourteen sessions of the program. Only after demonstrating the potential to succeed in the program, can they move forward and are responsible for tuition.  
  • 12 Week program at City College
  • Certification in EMT-Basic from Florida and/or National Registry of EMTs (NREMT) 

Paramedic Requirements, Training and Certification: 

  • Prerequisites: Must be certified EMT, and to get into City College, they must have served as an EMT for at least 4 months.  
  • 12 Month Program at City College
  • Certification in EMT-Paramedic from Florida/or National Registry of EMTs (NREMT)