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.