There is nothing easy about being an emergency medical technician or paramedic. First, you have to become one, no easy feat between the hours of training and passing a state or national test. Once that happens, EMTs find themselves in a position of making literal life and death decisions every day they go to work.
Because the job is so demanding and important to everyone’s well being, it’s not for everybody. There are a number of traits that make someone not just a certified EMT, but a great EMT. Here 10 of them.
1. A Stomach For the Job
Anyone who works in the medical industry must have an iron stomach or they won’t last long. EMTs fall under this umbrella; they see things that would make the everyday person’s stomach turn. Blood, guts, broken or severed limbs are just a few of things an EMT could encounter when they respond to a call.
2. Grace Under Fire
When an EMT answers a call, they could be walking into a hectic situation: serious car accident, natural disaster aftermath, building or home fire, etc. The first word in their job title is “Emergency,” after all. Most likely, everyone around is going to be panicked, so it’s up to the EMT to remain calm. People’s lives depend on the EMT’s ability to not get caught up in the chaos and do what it takes to get them out of harm’s way.
3. Team Player
There is no such thing as an EMT who works solo. They usually ride with someone and they communicate with dispatch services when an emergency call comes in. EMTs also work with paramedics to help patients, whether it’s stabilization, administering medication or giving CPR. Good communication is also required when the EMT gets the patient to the hospital to let the doctors and nurses know the status of the situation.
Working with so many different people in tense situations require EMTs to work well with people; the job can’t get done effectively otherwise.
Obviously, every EMT has a base level of knowledge in order to get through their training and pass their certification exam. It’s one thing to remember the information long enough to pass a test, but it’s another to retain it and remember it under pressure. A great EMT can be thrust into a life and death emergency situation and still be able to recall the medicine to administer or how to treat a wound properly until they can get the patient to the hospital.
5. Physical Strength
A great EMT doesn’t just possess mental strength, but physical strength, too. They don’t have to be an Olympic qualifier, but EMTs need to be able to help lift patients of various sizes when the situation calls for it. It’s important for EMTs to be well conditioned too, as the job requires a lot of movements like bending, kneeling pulling and pushing. They need to stay in shape even with limited free time.
6. Good Assessment Skills
Related to remaining calm and remembering what to do in an emergency, a great EMT can make quick decisions in a crisis. With enough time, anyone can decide on the right course of action, but on an emergency call, an EMT might only have minutes to figure out what to do to keep their patient alive. Everything moves fast in an emergency situation—an EMT’s decision making cannot be any different.
An EMT’s job would be a lot easier if they knew when the emergencies were going to take place. It’s an unpredictable job, however, and an EMT’s personality has to follow suit. This means they have to shift gears mentally in a hurry sometimes. If they were scheduled for a routine transport and suddenly must assist with a multi-car crash takes place, they may be needed elsewhere. Great EMTs can transition easily even without any notice.
An EMT’s work revolves so much around making quick decisions that common courtesy might fall through the cracks. However, it’s another personality trait a great EMT will possess. An emergency patient is most likely going to be frightened, maybe even confused, depending on the situation. Besides the medical treatment, what they could also use is a friendly face and reassuring voice to help calm them down. It can be difficult to focus on kindness while chaos is all around, but the good EMTs make it happen.
9. Strong Work Ethic
Emergencies aren’t predictable and they don’t take days off. That means an EMT has to be ready and willing to work at all times, even when many people aren’t, like evenings, weekends and holidays. Even on scheduled days off, EMTs may remain on-call for a number of hours. This is a job for people who love the work, not for someone who just “wants a job.”
Not every patient an EMT treats will be a sober car accident victim or someone rescued from a burning building. Sometimes they encounter a patient who is mentally ill, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or just plain mean. A patient may demonstrate violence or abuse. A great EMT can control the situation with a certain level of diplomacy while remaining firm to restrain the patient so they don’t harm themselves or anyone else.
If you think you have what it takes to be an EMT, check out the requirements where you live. Here at Ohio Ambulance, you can find openings on our Current Openings page.