Paramedics must be calm, cool and collected when called to the scene of an accident or emergency medical situation. They must quickly and effectively treat sick or injured patients, helping them cope with trauma so they don't go into shock. Paramedics are literally life-savers in life-threatening situations and are usually the first to provide emergency care to those in need.
Without a fast response and quick-thinking skills, sick and injured patients may not survive long enough to make it to a hospital or medical facility. Paramedics don't always have time to thoroughly assess all of a victim's injuries and must quickly isolate and address those that are immediately life-threatening. Paramedics are vitally important because they are the first medical responders to emergency situations and must react without delay, so patients' symptoms and injuries don't deteriorate. Paramedics must be well-trained and mentally prepared to address traumatic situations, even if injuries are horrific and victims and others are highly emotional. They immediately contact their hospital emergency department to assess the situation and get direction on a plan of treatment.
Paramedics transport sick or injured patients to medical facilities in a safe and efficient manner. They do not drive recklessly, but they often drive as fast as is safe so they can get patients to advanced medical facilities before their conditions worsen. Patients must be properly secured to backboards or gurneys, so paramedics can continue to perform medical procedures during transportation. While staying in communication with physicians and others at the hospital emergency department, they might include CPR, administration of medication, insertion of needles to dispense intravenous fluids, or bandaging wounds and controlling bleeding. And, all of these duties must be done safely in a moving vehicle. When patients are being transported by helicopter, the challenges of providing care on the go are even more challenging.
If a patient has been exposed to toxins, hazardous materials or highly communicable diseases, paramedics protect themselves and others. They notify infection control authorities and later, decontaminate the interior of their ambulances. In these ways, paramedics play an important role in preventing the spread of harmful germs or injury from dangerous materials. Paramedics also are important to the entire medical team because they notify hospitals of patients' medical conditions before they arrive, giving emergency department staff time to prepare for their treatments. Their warnings also give medical staff time to safeguard against exposure to hazardous substances and the potential spread of disease.
According to the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, EMTs and paramedics are vital to a community because their role as dispatchers is a major link in the emergency response chain. Some EMTs and paramedics work in emergency call centers and dispatch ambulances to the scene. They also communicate with callers until help arrives. They must have strong communication skills and level heads so they can help panicky callers stay calm and get the help they need. Depending on the dispatcher's medical expertise, he may be qualified to give medical advice over the phone to help callers start CPR or take other action until emergency crews arrive.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.