A paramedic is not just an ambulance driver. A paramedic job description is part doctor, part nurse, part counselor and part trouble-shooter. Paramedic job descriptions may even change significantly depending on whether the paramedic works for a fire department, a hospital or a private ambulance service. A paramedic doesn't even have to work on an ambulance anymore, as more opportunities for patient care open up beyond traditional EMS (Emergency Medical Services).
At its most basic, the paramedic job description includes offering medical care for sick and injured people on an ambulance. Most paramedics respond to people's homes, businesses, nursing homes or medical offices, provide medical treatment and then transport people to hospitals. Remember that a paramedic is not an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). EMTs undergo minimal training, and only perform basic first aid and treatment. The confusion with the public arises when some states refer to paramedics as EMTs for license classification purposes.
Some paramedics do not just take emergency patients to hospitals. Some work for ambulance services that run non-emergency, or transport, calls. These paramedics take people to and from nursing home and hospitals for various medical tests, assessments and procedures.
Fire Department Paramedics
Fire department paramedics work double-duty. One day they may be transporting patients on an ambulance, offering medications, IVs and EKGs. The next day they may be riding on the fire engine, hauling hose and tearing apart cars at traffic accidents.
Geography and Scope of Practice
Paramedic job descriptions may also vary geographically. Paramedics are all allowed to start IVs, give medications, perform certain invasive procedures, read EKGs, defibrillate patients and insert breathing tubes. But depending on the EMS system they work in and their scope of practice, some paramedics are allowed to do even more than that, while others are more limited in what they are allowed to do.
Out of the Ambulance
These days, paramedics are often used as nurse substitutes in hospital, industrial and nursing home settings. So paramedics who don't want to respond to emergency calls in ambulances can still practice their skills on patients who need their help. Paramedics attend school for almost as long as some nurses and are allowed to perform many invasive and medical procedures that nurses are not trained to do.
Paramedic as Troubleshooter
Paramedics don't just provide medical and first aid care. Many patients call 911 because of emotional or mental issues. Paramedics are trained to deal with patients who may need professional help in dealing with their problems.
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