EMT Jobs – EMT Training
EMT jobs can be exciting because each day is something different. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals are called on to work in a variety of environments including homes, industrial areas, playgrounds, businesses, and even out on the street. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) are trained to rapidly assess patients for life threatening illness or injuries and are trained to provide life saving interventions as needed.
EMT training allows these professionals to deal with many situations like cardiac arrest, motor vehicle accidents, shortness of breath, severe bleeding, and other medical crises.
EMT’s also handle non life-threatening situations and provide treatments for the sick and injured in order to stabilize patients for transport to a higher level of care.
Some common interventions an EMT can perform are splinting injured extremities, dressing and bandaging wounds, applying oxygen, and transporting patients between facilities.
After completing EMT training and becoming certified, most emergency medical responders will want to find immediate employment.
EMS personnel can work with hospitals, usually in the ER as an emergency room tech or as a patient care tech. Another common source of employment for EMT’s are private Ambulance Services and 911 Ambulance Services.
EMTs, especially Paramedics (with Fire Science knowledge or Fire Academy experience) can also become employed with Fire and Rescue. Keep reading for more information on all these jobs and to figure out which job sounds right for you.
911 EMT Jobs
The most common job that comes to mind when I think about an Emergency Medical Technician is an ambulance responding to a 911 call. Before getting involved in the medical field and becoming an EMT, I thought EMTs and Paramedics were basically the same and that they all worked responding to 911 emergency calls. I wrote a post EMT vs Paramedic to help anyone else interested in knowing the difference between them.
The first EMT jobs category that will be discussed here is ambulance jobs responding to 911 calls (non Fire Department).
The first thing you need to know is that county or city municipal agencies usually have contracts with an exclusive Ambulance Service for 911 response.
This allows private ambulance companies to operate within the 911 system for whichever city, county or state they have contracts in. Often Fire Departments also respond to 911 calls in the same areas as these emergency medical response units.
What does this mean for the EMT searching for a job?
If you want an EMT job responding to emergency 911 calls, the first step is to know which ambulance companies in your area service 911 calls. Depending on where you live, this may be a simple or difficult task.
For example if you asked what ambulance company handled 911 calls in my area in 2012, I would have answered AMR (American Medical Response).
However, if you ask that question today it’s a bit more complicated. Here are some examples of the current 911 emergency response contracts for the areas around Orange and Los Angeles Counties.
– AmeriCare Ambulance is contracted with city of Santa Monica.
– Emergency Ambulance Services is contracted with Brea, Yorba Linda and Placentia.
– Care Ambulance is contracted with San Gabriel Valley ( Pomona, Azusa, Walnut Creek, etc.), south east Los Angeles county (Norwalk, Lakewook, Whittier, etc.) and a large portion of OC. They also have individual city contracts with many cities like San Clemente, Garden Grove, Anaheim and Santa Ana.
– McCormick Ambulance has contracts with Hawthorne, Compton, Carson, Inglwood, Malibu, Palos Verdes, West Hollywood, etc but, they have recently been bought by AMR so there may be changes coming.
– AMR is contracted in Santa Clarita and the desert areas (Lancaster, Palmdale and north of the mountains in Los Angeles County).
As you can see, in some areas it might require a little work to determine which ambulance companies you want to apply for.
A good way to find out information on which companies provide ambulance services in your state and area is to join EMS forums. There is a bit more information on EMS forums on our EMT Certification page, it’s #5 under the heading How to Become EMT Certified.
Now that you found the 911 jobs in your area, you might be asking:
Are 911 jobs better than private ambulance jobs?
The answer depends on your goals, but this question will start a good debate in most EMS forums. The most obvious reason emergency medical responders prefer 911 jobs (often called Fire shifts, because the ambulance responds to calls along with Fire and Rescue) is because it’s more exciting.
This is the kind of work EMT students picture when they are learning skills, before they have any exposure to ambulance ride alongs. If a patient has a leg wound caused by a machete it’s a 911 contracted ambulance that will respond.
911 response EMT jobs routinely respond to motor vehicle collisions (MVC), shootings, stroke (CVA- cardiovascular accident), heart attacks (MI-myocardial infarction), seizures, pregnancy complications, and falls.
Part of what makes these calls so exciting is they occur in different settings and the energy on scene is usually very high. There are often on-lookers and witnesses present which makes these calls more public and exhilarating to participate in.
Another advantage of EMT jobs with 911 is that there are many opportunities for using practical skills like scene management and working a cardiac arrest.
In general a 911 response EMT job Emergency Medical Technician may deal with life and death emergencies on a regular basis and more than some of the other ambulance service jobs.
However, many 911 calls are not exciting or anything to write home about. The definition of an emergency for non-medical people can be vastly different from what those in the emergency field consider an emergency.
For this reason, many calls will only consist of performing an assessment, taking vitals, administering oxygen, and documenting during transport to an Emergency Department (ED).
A good EMT needs to determine which patients just needs a ride to the ED and which patients are experiencing a serious medical event.
Patients may also call 911 for reasons other than an actual emergency. Unfortunately due to insurance issues and long Emergency Room wait times, an injured citizen may have other motives for calling an ambulance.
In many areas of the country, this is just part of being an emergency medical responder, luckily so is being patient and non-judgmental.
Becoming an EMT and working with 911 ambulance services will have more job competition than other EMT jobs. Often an EMT will need to get a job with a private ambulance performing mostly interfacility transfers (IFL) in order to get experience before being hired for 911 jobs.
Commonly the ambulance company with the 911 contract for your area will also run interfacility transports, which means new EMTs have a good chance of getting hired at the company and rapidly being assigned 911 calls.
Exact calls will vary depending on where you live, but here are some common calls EMT’s respond to while working 911 jobs:
• Chestpain (CP)
• Shortness of Breath (SOB)
• Altered Level of Consciousness (ALOC)
• Abdominal Pain
• Overdoses (OD)
• Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA)
• Elderly Falls
• Loss of Consciousness (Syncope)
• Intoxication (ETOH)
• Trauma Calls
EMT Ambulance Jobs
Many emergency medical technicians will spend at least some time providing patient care on non 911 related calls. These EMT jobs may not be glamorous, but they provide an important service to the community and it’s citizens. You might be asking what do private (often referred to as interfacility transfer) ambulances do?
These EMT jobs take the emergency responder to a variety of settings including patient homes, skilled nursing facilities (SNF), dialysis units, emergency departments (ED), hospital rooms, and any other location with a sick or injured non-emergent patient.
Basic EMT’s will be expected to provide Basic Life Support (BLS) as needed and may also need to do Critical Care Transports (CCT) with a Registered Nurse (RN) present.
Even though private ambulance EMT jobs don’t have the glamour or glory of 911 EMT jobs, they do require strong EMT skills and good patient care. These jobs are often physically demanding because of all the lifting and transferring of chronically ill patients from bed to gurney and back to bed again at drop off.
Many of these patients have long term chronic illness with multiple body systems affected. Often they are not ambulatory and they can present as a very complicated overall patient.
Emergency Medical Technicians working on a private ambulance will get very good at skills like assessment, vital signs, patient rapport, and communicating with caregivers and family.
These EMT jobs allow time to perfect secondary assessment skills and getting a SAMPLE history because there is more time for a thorough assessment.
An advantage to working for interfacility transfer (IFT) companies is that the Emergency Medical Technician can gain in-depth medical knowledge more quickly than in a 911 job. Transferring non emergency medical patients may involve more time at hospitals or other facilities while waiting around for them to prepare the patient for transport.
During this time and during long transports, the EMT has time to read the patient’s transition of care summary and other medical reports. EMTs can learn a lot about medical conditions, treatments and current medications from these reports.
They can get a clear picture of disease progression and see how it has affected the patient in front of them during assessments.
Working with non emergent patients also gives Emergency Medical Technicians the opportunity to see the longterm effects of chronic conditions and see what these symptoms look like on patients outside of an emergency situation.
Another thing to keep in mind is that private ambulance company EMT jobs are still emergency responders. They may not respond to 911 calls, but there are going to be situations where the patients become emergent.
Sometimes it will be because the patient decompensates and the call is elevated to an emergency after arrival or during transport.
Sometimes it’s because the people who call the ambulance didn’t recognize it was a medical emergency when they called for an ambulance. For this reason EVERY patient should be assessed properly by the Emergency Medical Technician on arrival, and all patients need to be taken seriously.
Any routine transfer can turn into an emergency, but there are a couple types of IFT calls that are more likely to be emergency calls. The first type is patient transfers from Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF), also known as nursing homes for the elderly.
In many areas these facilities have to report and tally the number of 911 calls that are made from the facility each month. These 911 calls are a black mark against the SNF so they are avoided whenever possible.
For this reason, the SNF will often try to schedule a private ambulance with a fast response time in order to avoid calling 911 if they are unsure about the seriousness of a patient’s condition.
Whenever my partner and I got a call for a transfer from an SNF to an Emergency Department (ED) we assumed it was an emergency and rushed to get to the patient for assessment because these calls so frequently become emergencies. (Often the SNF complaint is altered mental status which is caused by sepsis).
Another type of call that may end up with an emergency transport to the ED is a patient being transferred home after dialysis. These patients can have fluid imbalances and many other issues as a result of the hemodialysis treatment.
Overall, most of these patients will be a routine transport without complications, but dialysis patients can present as very ill and can become unstable quickly during transport.
Private ambulance EMT jobs are a great place to sharpen your skills and become a great EMT and sometimes even a better Paramedic. However, it requires the medical professional to be highly self motivated. Basically you have to force yourself to not be lazy, and you can’t get comfortable with just getting by.
Critical Care Transports
Often IFT companies provide Critical Care Transports (CCT), which offer Basic Life Support (BLS) EMTs the opportunity to work with a Registered Nurse (RN). During critical care transports the EMT can help escort a critically ill patient that has a higher probability of deterioration during transport.
Critical care transport calls offer the EMT experience working with patients on ventilators, vasopressors, and they can even be neonatal patients.
During these calls the EMT will need to be ready to follow any requests made by the RN. Common responsibilities will be lifting and moving the patient, bag valve ventilations, chest compressions, and complying with the RN’s requests during transport.
For patients on a ventilator, be ready to provide ventilations (with the Bag Valve Device) anytime the patient needs to be disconnected from the ventilator, such as when transporting the patient from the ambulance into the facility.
We had the portable ventilator fail once during a CCT transport and as the EMT it was my responsibility to provide ventilations for the entire transport.
The point is there are many things an EMT can learn from working CCTs. They can be exposed to hospital equipment and complicated patients, and the nurses are usually happy to share their knowledge during transport.
This is a great way for the EMT-B to learn about current medications and help the nurse respond to changes in patient status during transport.
More about IFT Jobs
While some people classify these EMT jobs as boring, there are patients that will provide challenges frequently. Paramedics doing IFT may have much more challenging patients on multiple drips who remain unstable and require interventions the entire transport. Even BLS transports can have high acuity patients that require constant monitoring and interventions.
Another good thing about inter-facility transport EMT jobs is that the emergency medical responder gets to build relationships with patients. There is more time spent on each call and this allows the EMT to get to know patients on a more personal level.
This can be just as fulfilling because you get a strong sense that you are helping people and providing a needed service.
Also, family is frequently involved and grateful for a medical professional willing to take the time to listen and answer their questions. (With 911 patient safety and survival often requires the EMT to leave the scene quickly in order to transport the patient to an ED.)
Also, it’s not uncommon for interfacility transports to see the same patients repeatedly which adds to these relationships and can increase patient care. This kind of job might not have the glamor of 911 calls, but getting to know patients and helping them get through a difficult time can be very fulfilling.
At the end of the day EMTs working on mostly IFTs are providing a much needed service to citizens. In my experience what’s important is providing competent medical care to patients and delivering good customer service at the same time. Patients want to feel safe when you transport them.
Patients want to feel like you care about them and are taking care of medical needs they didn’t even know they had. They don’t care about the adrenaline rush from heading to a scene or how awesome you are at dealing with trauma at car accidents.
These EMT jobs aren’t made for everybody though. If your someone who wants to be an emergency medical responder to provide a service and help people than you will probably do well in this kind of ambulance work.
If you can see each patient as an human being who deserves to be treated with respect and empathy, no matter what their age or living circumstances are, you will do well in any EMT position.
Another challenge with IFT is that the EMT has to constantly assess for new medical emergencies because the patient is usually not being transported to a higher level of care like an Emergency Department (ED).
There is always the concern about whether the chronically ill patient is stable enough to be left at home or dropped off at a facility.
Overall, there are a lot of benefits to working for private ambulance services, but ultimately it depends on what your preferences and goals are as a medical professional.
Calls will vary depending on where you live, but here are some common calls private ambulance EMTs will respond to:
• Altered Level of Consciousness (ALOC)
• Non-ambulatory patient transfers
• Critical Care Transports (CCT)
• Dialysis patients
• Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
• Hypotensive Emergencies
• Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) transports
• Post Cardiac/Stroke to Rehab Facilities
A Warning About Certain IFT EMT Jobs
There are a couple of IFT EMT jobs to watch out for; or at least make to sure you know what you are signing on for before getting hired. I have not experienced these jobs personally, but spend some time on the EMS forums and there are complaints of companies who transport scheduled dialysis appointments and doctors appointments for 99% of calls.
This is probably something an individual wants to know prior to getting hired, so they can decide if it meets their career goals. For example, a full-time student focused on school might consider this a good option so they can focus on their studies.
Dialysis runs tend to pay well so don’t be surprised if these companies offer great sign on bonuses.
Another type of job to be aware of before signing on to an ambulance company is their rules/regulations regarding emergencies. I have heard that some companies (usually the Dialysis services mentioned above) make their EMTs call 911 and pull over to wait for transport if a patient decompensates into a medical emergency during transport.
Companies with this policy also don’t allow their ambulances to help if an accident or injury happens in front of them.
EMTs working for these companies have reported that if they see an accident on the side of the road, they aren’t allowed to pull over and render aid. They can only call 911.
These policies are in place to protect the companies from legal issues, but this is not the normal standard for IFT EMT jobs.
I don’t want to discourage anyone from getting work, but it’s important to know ahead of time how you will feel about this so you don’t end up quitting one of your first EMT jobs.
Personally, I would have a real problem working as an emergency medical responder if I’m not allowed to respond to a medical emergency in front of me…while sitting in an empty ambulance. This would be a self esteem issue for me.
It would be hard to hold my head up high knowing I work for in ambulance job that strictly prohibits me from performing any sort of emergency medical care.
While I worked on a private ambulance my partner and I were in between calls, and drove up on a fresh motorcycle accident. The motorcyclist was down and there were no civilians or professionals on scene yet an no witnesses to the accident. We stopped and my partner established scene safety (patient was down in the road) while I went to assess the patient.
I can’t imagine working for a company that would expect me to drive on and just call 911 without offering aid. Even as a civilian off the job I would stop and help, that’s the kind of person I am, which is what motivated me to get into emergency medicine.
If this is a deal breaker for you, make sure you check with the employer on what their policy is for employee response in an actual emergency. Most BLS response will depend on many factors such as the location of patient, how far they are from the hospital, whether the patient transport has already begun, etc. because they have to take patient safety and survival into account.
If the employer has a blanket policy like never get involved in an emergency, always pull over and call 911, etc. beware because this is not making the patient’s safety and outcome the priority. It’s making the company’s safety and financial outcome the priority.
EMT Hospital Jobs
The EMT jobs available inside of urgent cares and hospitals can vary depending on your state and city. Some hospitals fill many positions with all training levels of EMT, and other hospitals may only hire Advanced EMTs (AEMT) and Paramedics (EMTP). There are also hospitals that hire an EMT-B and then require additional certifications within a year of hiring.
The most common positions an EMT can find in the hospital setting are in the Emergency Department (ED) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU/CCU). Often these job will be listed as Emergency Department Technician, Emergency Room Technician, ED-Tech, and Critical Care Technician. Sometimes even Urgent Care job listings will be for Emergency Department Technicians.
EMT Job Description
Once an individual is hired for an EMT hospital job they will notice the job description is much different than that of an ambulance EMT worker. Emergency Department Technician can be responsible for registering patients, assisting in the admission process, posting schedules, checking medical records before discharge, along with other administrative duties.
Patient care responsibilities of a hospital EMT include to apply and change electrodes, run a basic EKG, perform patient assessment, monitor vital signs, take part in cardiopulmonary emergencies, and respond to patient needs.
Emergency Department Technicians will provide care for patients of all ages, assist with activities of daily living, and provide basic care to patients. It’s not unusual for EMTs in the hospital to be working under the supervision of a licensed nurse.
Many hospital EMT jobs will require their new employees to get additional certifications within 6 months or a year of being hired.
Some examples of certifications an Emergency Department Technician may need to get are: Phlebotomy Technician 1 Certification (usually within 1 year), EKG technician competency (may need within 60 days), Management of Aggressive Behavior (MoAB), or Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS).
Some hospitals will pay for the addition education for their employees. In fact, some hospitals with pay for their EMT employees to become a paramedic as long as the employee commits to work at the hospital for a set period of time.
The EMT jobs available in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Critical Care Unit (CCU) may require more knowledge and skills than Emergency Department jobs.
Paramedic jobs may be easy to find in Critical Care but it can be more challenging for other EMT levels to get hired. Many ICU/CCU will hire Advanced EMT (AEMT) or EMT Intermediate (EMTI) depending on the state, but the Basic EMT (EMT-B) may need to get (intravenous) IV certification before being considered for the job.
Fire Department EMT Jobs
Becoming an EMT with a fire department requires getting hired as a firefighter. This means additional schooling, training and in many locations there is a very competitive job market.
In my area there are many candidates applying for each firefighter job opening so joining Fire and Rescue is no simple task.
In order to increase the chances of being hired, candidates frequently get CPR Certification, Associates of Science degree in Fire Science and get their EMT license before applying for jobs with Fire.
Getting an Associates in Fire Science is not mandatory, but it’s also not that challenging for a student who is able to make it through EMT school. I have an AS in Fire Science and the only challenging class was Building Construction, so this isn’t the most difficult part of becoming an EMT firefighter. In fact, you can take these classes in between testing for the jobs that open up at Fire Stations near you.
The hardest part of becoming an EMT firefighter is getting hired. There is just so much competition with so many qualified applicants. This is what makes finding a position with a Fire Department difficult. In fact, in some areas there will be hundreds of applicants for one job opening.
What are some things you can do to get an advantage over other applicants? Being interested in EMS makes you a step ahead because in some areas up to 70% of Fire Department calls are medical responses.
For this reason some candidates are getting trained as Paramedics and applying to firefighter jobs and firefighter paramedic jobs. You have a much better chance of getting hired as a Firefighter Paramedic, but only do this if you want to work as a Paramedic in the Fire Department because you will be doing mostly medical calls.
This is not a good strategy for someone with no interest in the medical field and who just wants to be a firefighter.
If you are determined to work with the fire department and live in a highly competitive area, it’s very important to be in great physical shape. This means running to get endurance up and having good upper body strength is a must. Firefighter paramedics can’t get hired without passing the physical ability testing.
Another tip is to begin applying and testing as soon as you’re eligible. This means applying to many fire departments in your area and knowing when these departments are testing.
This strategy not only increases the chances of landing a firefighting job, it also will get you more comfortable with the testing process. Hopefully, when a position opens up at your preferred fire station you have experience and will do well applying and testing for it.
What should you do if another station (not your preferred one) offers you a job?
Getting actual experience working as a firefighter is invaluable and will make it easier to transfer to the station you want later on. Keep in mind with the competition for each job opening, you may never get offered a job at the fire station of your choice. However, you will get more priority to transfer there as an experienced firefighter later on.
EMT Job Outlook
If you are still wondering:
Should I become an EMT?
The answer in terms of future job outlook is very good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic the projected growth rate for EMTs and Paramedics from 2014 to 2024 is 24% which is much higher than the average job growth rate of 7%. Also EMTs are able to get hired immediately after completing EMT school, even without any work experience.
→ Want help putting together a job resume? Check out our EMT Resume post.