Updated: Nov 9, 2021
A paramedic is a healthcare professional who primarily provides advanced emergency medical care to patients in an emergency or critical condition who have accessed the emergency medical system. The paramedic’s role is similar to the positions of other healthcare personnel, mostly the emergency medical technician (EMT), but paramedics often have more responsibilities than EMTs and are of a higher grade because they have considerably higher training and education.
The patients are usually transported to the emergency department of the establishment. However, it is also important to note that not all ambulance personnel are paramedics.
Paramedics can work in many environments because of the nature of the job, and they can also work alongside police units such as SWAT during their operations. Examples of these environments are roadways, homes, and their qualifications, hospitals, aircraft, etc. Paramedics can also be found working in non-emergency situations, such as transporting chronically ill patients to treatment centers and back from them. In addition, paramedics in some areas can address social determinants of health and are also involved in providing in-home care to patients at risk of hospitalization, which is a practice called community paramedicine.
There are several hazards that paramedics are exposed to on the job, including treating people with infectious diseases, lifting patients and equipment, ground or air transportation, and handling hazardous substances. Employers can help to prevent or protect paramedics from these occupational hazards that could lead to injuries or illnesses by carrying out a training program educating the paramedics on the job hazards, provision of patient handling equipment that is safe, and making personal protective equipment available to them such as gloves, isolation gowns, and respirators when they are dealing with biological hazards.
Depending on the part of the world they are in, their services may fall under different organizational structures. For example, although the emergency medical services employ a majority of paramedics, they can be employed by different organizations, and they now have a new and evolving role which is their practice being expanded to include providing basic primary health care and assessment services.
The level of training for paramedics and the expectation varies across the world, but the common skills that paramedics practice in the pre-hospital setting includes advanced cardiac life support, patient assessment, airway management techniques, bleeding control, shock management, spinal injury management, management of burns, triage of people involved in mass casualty incident, etc. Paramedics also carry and administer a broad range of emergency medications. The medications they are specifically allowed to administer vary broadly based on legal restrictions and local standards of care, and preferences of the medical director or physician.
Although the levels of paramedic training for many jurisdictions vary, which in turn leads to variations in the procedures that may be performed by different paramedics depending on their qualifications, there are three common general divisions of the training of paramedics. These divisions are basic technician, advanced technician or general paramedic, and advanced paramedic, and they all have different common skills that they may practice with the higher levels already possessing the skills of the lower levels.
A first responder is someone who has received specialized training and is among the first set of people to arrive and give assistance to those at the scene of an emergency such as a natural disaster, accident, or terror attack. The first responders normally include paramedics, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).The first responder training is aimed at bridging the gap between Emergency Medical technicians and first aid.
Someone who has received certification allowing them to provide pre-hospital care in a particular jurisdiction is known as a certified first responder, while there is also a community first responder who is someone that is sent to attend to medical emergencies until the arrival of an ambulance. There is also wilderness first responder training in the provision of pre-hospital care in remote settings. They also have relevant skills for the specific purpose of patient packaging and transportation by non-motorized means.
First responders must be trained in dealing with a broad range of potential medical emergencies, and because of the high level of uncertainty and stress associated with the position, they must ensure that they maintain mental and physical health. Moreover, aside from all the preparations they can carry out, they face a particular risk of being the first to aid people with unknown contagions.