By LAPG Staff
Sep 22nd 2020

Source: Steve Hamann/

Want an exciting career on the front lines in the medical field? Then you may be interested in becoming an EMS worker. These first responders provide life-saving medical care to people in their community so they can make a significant difference in someone’s life.

Let’s see if your ideal career is stepping into a pair of EMS pants and uniform boots.

What Is an EMS Worker?

EMS workers are considered first responders and provide emergency care to people before and while they are transported to the hospital.

This group of first responders includes EMTs, firefighters, paramedics, and other people who routinely provide pre-hospital care as part of their job duties. Other EMS workers coordinate emergency services or work as instructors to others.

General EMS Work Duties

Work duties vary depending on the level of his or her certification. Most EMS workers physically examine patients and assess their level of trauma as well as administer oxygen, perform CPR and provide basic first aid.

They respond to emergency medical calls like a child drowning or someone with injuries from a fall. No two days are ever the same as far as the types of calls that EMS workers respond to. Often, firefighters respond to fires as well as medical calls and are cross-trained.

Levels of Certifications for EMS Workers

There are four primary levels of certifications for EMS workers.

Emergency Medical Responder

The Emergency Medical Responder initiates life-saving care for people who call 911. They have basic patient care and emergency medical skills necessary to help stabilize patients until responders with a higher level of skills arrive on the scene. They’ll also help with transporting patients to medical facilities.

Emergency medical responders must successfully complete an accredited Emergency Medical Responder training program.

Emergency Medical Technician

EMTs are the next level of certification, and they provide basic medical care to emergency patients and help with transport. EMT skills include basic knowledge of transportation and patient care in emergencies. Emergency Medical Technicians are under medical oversight and perform medical interventions with basic equipment on rescue squads.

Educational requirements for EMTs include the successful completion of an accredited Emergency Medical Technician class.

Advanced Emergency Medical Technician

The biggest difference between Advanced Medical Technicians and the other ones discussed so far is that Advanced EMTs have additional training and certification in some advanced emergency medical patient care. They are sometimes known as EMT-Enhanced and have the skills of the other two, but also can start IVs, administer certain drugs and perform dual-lumen airway insertion.

Drugs they can administer include epinephrine, glucagon, D50W, albuterol and certain narcotics. EMTs with advanced training also perform under medical oversight and can treat patients with basic and advanced treatment most ambulances carry.

Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians must successfully complete an accredited Advanced Medical Technician course.

paramedic team talking to young patient

Source: michaeljung/


A paramedic’s essential job duties focus on advanced medical emergency care for patients critically ill or injured. They have extensive medical knowledge and skills to provide advanced care to patients on the scene and during transport to medical facilities. Paramedics operate under medical oversight and are a vital link from the scene to hospital care.

They must work well under pressure and have more extensive training requirements because they must make complex decisions rapidly. To be a paramedic, you must successfully complete an associate’s degree or a nationally accredited Paramedic program.

Training programs for EMS workers can last for six months to even two years and, upon completion, they receive a certification. This certification must be renewed regularly by attending additional training, and the time frame depends on the state and local laws.

Critical Skills for EMS Workers

Medical professionals must be able to perform in a fast-paced, high-stress environment that is physically and mentally demanding. They must wear heavy equipment and can stand on their feet all day. Excellent communication skills are a must because more advanced EMS workers teach new ones, and they must accept direction from supervisors.

business woman giving a check


Salary for EMS Workers

The median pay for EMS workers as of May 2019 was $35,400, but salary varies depending on location and state. There is an expected six percent growth for these workers between 2019 and 2029, which means they will always be needed.

If you like excitement and react quickly in emergencies, then becoming an EMS worker is the perfect career for you. EMS workers play a vital role in society by providing critical medical care in emergency situations.

Check out your state requirements online or contact your local fire department or rescue squad to learn more.


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