Where Do Paramedics Work?

Working as a paramedic is an exciting and important career. As a trained and certified paramedic you will be responsible for quickly assessing patients at the scene of an emergency, making fast decisions, and implementing emergency care. This requires quick thinking, calm under pressure, and the ability to problem solve. Most paramedics work from an ambulance, responding to emergency calls and transporting patients to emergency rooms.

This is not the only setting in which paramedics work, though. If you are interested in emergency care but not working in an ambulance, you have a lot of other exciting options. The demand for trained paramedics continues to grow, and these professionals are needed to work with ocean rescue groups, S.W.A.T. teams, air rescue groups, and in other non-ambulance settings.


What is a Paramedic?

A paramedic is a trained first responder who provides emergency medical treatment. First responders like paramedics are typically the first professionals on the scene of an emergency call, an accident, or any other situation in which someone has been hurt or is very ill. The paramedics who arrive on the scene must quickly evaluate the situation, make decisions, administer medical care, and in some cases transport the patient to a hospital.

Each state has different licensing and educational requirements for paramedics, but generally a paramedic is the most trained and skilled type of medical first responder. There are also EMTs, which stands for emergency medical technician. In most states, the first level of first responder is the EMT or EMT-basic, followed by EMT-advanced, and paramedic. Paramedics have had more education and training, and can administer more advanced treatments and procedures.


Paramedics Often Work in Ambulances

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 48 percent of paramedics and EMTs work for ambulance services. This means they respond to emergency calls by driving an ambulance to the scene to assess and treat patients as needed. They often transport those patients to an emergency room after making quick decisions about what they need.

While most paramedics work in ambulances, either directly employed by ambulance companies, or employed by hospitals and emergency rooms, this is not the only kind of work they do. There are other career options for trained paramedics and a range of work settings. These include working as a firefighter paramedic, working in search and rescue, or working on flights, on ships, or at particular locations, such as resorts. As a paramedic, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from if working in an ambulance doesn’t interest you.


Firefighter Paramedic

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Firefighter paramedics

One alternative option to working for an ambulance service or hospital is to work as a firefighter paramedic. The typical educational path to becoming a firefighter includes training as either an EMT or paramedic. There is then a dual career path of either working on a fire department ambulance or pursuing a firefighter education and being employed in the dual role of firefighter paramedic. Many departments, especially larger departments hire individuals to work primarily as firefighters and others to work mostly as paramedics.

As a firefighter paramedic you may have to enter very dangerous situations, helping people get out or burning buildings and then treating them. Working as a firefighter is one of the most dangerous and riskiest types of careers. These professionals do very important work, but they have high rates of injury and illness. T As a firefighter paramedic, you may work out of a fire truck, also known as a ladder, or a fire department ambulance.


Flight Paramedic

Another exciting career option for a trained paramedic is working as a flight paramedic, sometimes also referred to as a flight medic. In most cases, to be hired for this position, you need to be a certified paramedic and then complete additional training in flight paramedics and critical care. You may also need to have a few years of experience working as a ground paramedic.

What flight medics do is provide emergency and first responder care and stabilization or monitoring for patients as they are transported by aircraft. For example, a flight paramedic may work on a helicopter team that transports patients from more remote locations over long distances to an emergency room. The work is much like that of an ambulance paramedic but is complicated by the fact of moving patients by aircraft and at high altitudes, which can impact medical conditions. 


Shipboard Paramedic

Another setting in which paramedics are needed is on a ship. Most commonly the paramedics that work onboard ships are employed by cruise ship companies. They provide emergency medical support to any of the thousands of vacationers who may become ill or injured. These paramedics usually work as part of a ship team that also includes at least one physician and multiple nurses. To work on a ship you may need additional training to address some of the particular medical issues that can arise at sea.


Ocean Rescue

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Ocean Rescue

A paramedic may also work as part of rescue teams that search for and rescue people out at sea. Many coastal cities include these kinds of paramedics as part of search and rescue teams, lifeguard services, and other types of first responder teams. An ocean rescue paramedic may start from shore to rescue victims or they may operate from boats or aircraft, like helicopters. They help to rescue and provide emergency care for people who are drowning or who are lost from or on a boat.

Ocean rescue teams usually have rescue workers as well as paramedics. The work is exciting but also dangerous. These emergency workers put their lives on the line to save people who have fallen overboard, been lost in storms, capsized, or fallen victim to other accidents. They go into dangerous situations to provide care and rescue and then stay with patients as they are transported to emergency rooms or hospitals.


S.W.A.T Paramedic

A trained and certified paramedic may be eligible for a position with a police department S.W.A.T. team. This is a special law enforcement unit that provides military-style tactical skills for particularly difficult situations, such as riots or other violent confrontations with criminals. Paramedics are often hired to work with S.W.A.T. teams to provide care in the event that a situation leads to injury to a criminal, a member of the public, or a police officer.

While a S.W.A.T. paramedic does not get involved in the direct action of the team, he or she is on the scene of a dangerous situation. This is a riskier type of paramedic job that may put you in harm’s way and is more dangerous than working as an ambulance paramedic. Typically you do not need additional certification, but a police department may require that you have experience working as a paramedic and that you go through tactical emergency medical training before being hired.


On-Location Paramedic

Sometimes paramedics are hired to work on site in specific location or for events. For instance, a paramedic may be hired to work at a music festival where there are thousands of people that may get hurt and need quick treatment. Amusement parks and large resorts or hotels are other examples of locations that may need an on-site paramedic. These are places with large amounts of people that benefit from having quick access to first responder care.


How to Become a Paramedic

The requirements for becoming a paramedic vary by state, but in general you need to complete a certificate or two-year degree program after graduating from high school in order to meet those requirements. A post-secondary program will teach you the hands-on skills you need and basic medical knowledge that will prepare you to work as a medical first responder. For paramedics, with more training than EMTs, a two-year degree program is usually the best option.

In Florida, the requirements for paramedic certification include completing a program followed by getting licensed through the Department of Health, Division of Medical Quality Assurance. Florida paramedic certification includes passing an appropriate licensure examination. There are different exams for being certified as an EMT or a paramedic. If you choose a good paramedic degree program like the Associate of Science in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program offered at City College campuses throughout Florida, you will be prepared to pass the exam and get licensed.

Does working as a paramedic in any of these exciting settings sound like the career for you? If so, you need to take the first step toward achieving your career dreams. That first step is to find and participate in a paramedic degree programContact City College today to start working toward your career in Emergency Medical Services.