It's not often that EMTs and Paramedics get thanked for their work. But every once in a while, someone will say: "I don't know what we'd do without you." It's hard to imagine that not that long ago, Emergency Medical Service as we know it today didn't exist. As recently as thirty years ago, an ambulance provided little more than a quick ride to the hospital. The most important, and often only, person staffing the ambulance was the driver. While vehicle operations are still an important part of the EMT or Paramedic's job, today's EMS personnel are far more than "ambulance drivers."
Emergency Medical Service is a unique field, part health care, part public safety. EMS providers need skills and training in both areas, and a few others unique to the field. Of course, most formal training is in the medical arts, particularly patient assessment, patient treatment, and case documentation, but including medical terminology, anatomy and physiology and pathophysiology, as well as medical ethics and law. Public safety training includes incident command operations, emergency vehicle operations, rescue operations and hazardous material operations, as well as training in dealing with disturbed or violent individuals and mass casualty incidents. EMS providers learn patient immobilization and extrication and prehospital trauma life support, and how to use devices like the extrication vest, the stair chair, the orthopedic stretcher and the Reeves stretcher, all peculiar to Emergency Medical Services. Obviously, an EMT or Paramedic needs to be versatile.
The EMT or Paramedic needs to be a compassionate listener, an accurate questioner, a perceptive observer, a clear communicator, a thorough and concise writer, and a conscientious caregiver. He or she must be a skilled driver, a careful furniture mover and a gentle patient handler. EMS personnel are proficient at handling things from high-tech electronics to high-power tools to high-strung household pets. They need to be able to work calmly and competently in the comfort of the patient's home or the chaos of the crash scene. They need to be able to follow complex procedures in spite of distractions and make critical decisions in hostile environments. EMTs and Paramedics know they'll have to see horrible things; things nobody should ever have to see, but they know they'll have the chance to see some rare and wonderful things that few get the opportunity to see.
Continuing education for EMS personnel is continuous education. Paramedics keep current in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Prehospital Trauma Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and EMTs and Paramedics maintain training Basic Cardiac Life Support (CPR), Basic Vehicle Rescue, Trench Rescue, High Angle Rescue, and Hazardous Materials Operations, as well as Emergency Vehicle Operations. Regular continuing education sessions feature training in new drugs and therapies and the use of the newest medical technology. Many EMTs and Paramedics are educators as well as students, teaching CPR, First Aid, Public Access Defibrillation, and other subjects.
EMS providers are dedicated professionals, serving the residents of the community with skill and care. If you would like more information on a career in Emergency Medical Services, call Tri-Community South EMS at 412-831-3710, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm.