Paramedics in emergency responses provide emergency care to sick, injured, and vulnerable persons in emergency medical situations, before and during transport to a medical facility. They implement and oversee the transfer of the patient in connection with transport. They provide assistance in acute situations, implement life-saving emergency measures, and monitor the performance of the transportation process. As allowed by national law they may also provide oxygen, certain drugs, the puncture of peripheral veins and infusion of crystalloid solutions and perform endotracheal intubation if needed for the immediate prevention of threats for the life or health of an emergency patient.
Paramedics in emergency responses typically do the following:
- Operate ambulance equipment and respond to radio transmissions
- Lead and coordinate the team responding to an emergency
- Evaluate the patient’s condition on the scene and perform preliminary diagnosis
- Attend to injuries or sudden illnesses by applying a variety of pre-hospital simple and advanced treatments (first aid, CPR, administering injections and oxygen etc.) or surgical procedures
- Use tech equipment and tools to stabilize patients or provide immediate treatment
- Monitor patient’s condition en route to the hospital
- Collaborate with interested parties (police, firefighting unit, doctors etc.)
- Write and submit concrete and accurate reports on incidents
- Adhere to established medical protocols and procedures as well as legal guidelines and health and safety standards
- Keep abreast with new treatment and medical procedures through continuous training
The following job titles also refer to paramedic in emergency responses:
emergency medical technician
emergency response paramedic
Paramedics in emergency responses work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. Their work is physically strenuous and can be stressful, sometimes involving life-or-death situations.
Injuries and Illnesses
Paramedics are required to do considerable kneeling, bending, and lifting while caring for and moving patients. They may be exposed to contagious diseases and viruses, such as hepatitis B and HIV. Sometimes they can be injured by combative patients. These risks can be reduced by following proper safety procedures, such as waiting for police to clear an area in violent situations or wearing gloves while working with a patient.
Most paramedics in emergency responses work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week. Because paramedics must be available to work in emergencies, they may work overnight and on weekends. Volunteer paramedics have variable work schedules. For example, they may work only a few days per week.
Paramedics need a high school diploma, and some obtain an associate degree for increased job prospects. Each candidate must obtain a license in the state where they work. CPR certification is a must for paramedics and is required for postsecondary educational programs in emergency medical areas. These programs range from 1-2 years and are offered in technical schools, community colleges and universities.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Paramedic in emergency responses is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Paramedic in emergency responses career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to paramedic in emergency responses.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of paramedic in emergency responses. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of paramedic in emergency responses with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of paramedic in emergency responses.
- Hygiene in a health care setting: The procedures related to maintaining a hygienic environment within a health care setting such as hospitals and clinics. It can range from hand washing to cleaning and disinfection of medical equipment used and infection control methods.
- Behavioural science: The investigation and analysis of subject behaviour through regulated and lifelike observations and disciplined scientific experiments.
- Operational tactics for emergency responses: The characteristics and proceedings of operational tactics for emergency responses especially at major incidents and catastrophes.
- Pharmacology: Pharmacology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
- Disorders of vital functions: The characteristics and disorders of vital functions, consciousness and unconsciousness, respiratory and circulatory system, bleeding, shocks, artificial respiration.
- Sanitary technology: The characteristics and usage of medicinal products and sanitary technical equipment.
- Transportation methods: Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and optimal work strategies.
- Pathogenic microorganisms: The main classes of pathogenic microorganisms, the spread of infection and the use of universal precautions.
- Sociology applied to paramedical science: The fundamental role of sociology for paramedics in developing and maintaining effective relationships, psychological and social factors that influence an individual in health and illness.
- Physical science applied to paramedical practice: The principles and theories of physics, biomechanics, electronics and ergonomics that can be applied to paramedic practice.
- Health care system: The structure and function of health care services.
- Human anatomy: The dynamic relationship of human structure and function and the muscosceletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, integumentary and nervous systems; normal and altered anatomy and physiology throughout the human lifespan.
- Clinical science: The research and development of the techniques and equipment used by medical staff to prevent, diagnose and treat illness.
- Defibrillation: The use of semiautomatic defibrillators and the cases where it applies.
- Stages of normal development: The main sequential stages of normal development, the cognitive, emotional and social measures of maturation through the human lifespan.
- Intravenous infusion: The vein access and infusion, the hygienic aspects and potential complications.
- Principles of paramedic practice: The theories and science that underpin the theory and principles of paramedic practice.
- Medical devices: Equipment and devices used in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of medical issues. Medical devices cover a wide range of products, ranging from syringes and protheses to MRI machinery and hearing aids.
- Intubation: The artificial respiration and intubation and the potential complications.
- Emergency cases: The emergency cases with different disease patterns and syndromes, the special emergency cases and their appropriate interventions.
- First aid: The emergency treatment given to a sick or injured person in the case of circulatory and/or respiratory failure, unconsciousness, wounds, bleeding, shock or poisoning.
- Medical dispatch: The concepts of a medical dispatch system and its use which consists in performing criteria based medical dispatch, answering emergency calls, and operating computer aided dispatch systems.
- Emergency medicine: Emergency medicine is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of paramedic in emergency responses.
- Transport patient to medical facility: Assist in lifting and carrying of the patient into the emergency vehicle for transport, and into the receiving medical facility on arrival.
- Operate specialised equipment in emergency: Operate equipment such as external defibrillators and bag-valve mask resuscitators, spinal and traction splints and intravenous drips in advanced life-support environments, taking electrocardiograms when required.
- Provide pre-hospital emergency care of trauma: Provide pre-hospital emergency medical care of simple and multiple system trauma, controlling haemorrhage, treating shock, bandaged wounds and immobilising painful, swollen, or deformed extremities, neck, or spine.
- Respond to changing situations in health care: Cope with pressure and respond appropriately and in time to unexpected and rapidly changing situations in healthcare.
- Inform policy makers on health-related challenges: Provide useful information related to health care professions to ensure policy decisions are made in the benefit of communities.
- Manage patients with acute illnesses: Manage patients of all age groups with acute and urgent illnesses or injuries such as episodic undifferentiated physical and behavioural symptoms or disorders.
- Contribute to continuity of health care: Contribute to the delivery of coordinated and continuous healthcare.
- Use e-health and mobile health technologies: Use mobile health technologies and e-health (online applications and services) in order to enhance the provided healthcare.
- Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
- Adapt to emergency care environment: Adapt practice to ensure that needs of patients within the emergency and urgent care environment are met.
- Select hazard control: Perform appropriate selection of hazard control measures and risk management
- Empathise with the healthcare user: Understand the background of clients` and patients’ symptoms, difficulties and behaviour. Be empathetic about their issues; showing respect and reinforcing their autonomy, self-esteem and independence. Demonstrate a concern for their welfare and handle according to the personal boundaries, sensitivities, cultural differences and preferences of the client and patient in mind.
- Manage healthcare users’ data: Keep accurate client records which also satisfy legal and professional standards and ethical obligations in order to facilitate client management, ensuring that all clients’ data (including verbal, written and electronic) are treated confidentially.
- Maintain order at scenes of accidents: Maintain order at emergency scenes dispersing crowds and keeping family and friends from touching the patient.
- Deal with emergency care situations: Assess the signs and be well-prepared for a situation that poses an immediate threat to a person’s health, security, property or environment.
- Provide health education: Provide evidence based strategies to promote healthy living, disease prevention and management.
- Monitor patient’s vital signs: Monitor and analyse vital signs of heart, respiration, and blood pressure.
- Communicate effectively in healthcare: Communicate effectively with patients, families and other caregivers, health care professionals, and community partners.
- Follow clinical guidelines: Follow agreed protocols and guidelines in support of healthcare practice which are provided by healthcare institutions, professional associations, or authorities and also scientific organisations.
- Write reports on emergency cases: Record the patient`s condition or injury from the start of the takeover in the ambulance, the treatment provided, and reactions to drugs and treatment.
- Manage major incidents: Take immediate action to respond to major incidents that affect the safety and security of individuals in private or public places such as road accidents.
- Advise on healthcare users’ informed consent: Ensure patients/clients are fully informed about the risks and benefits of proposed treatments so they can give informed consent, engaging patients/clients in the process of their care and treatment.
- Conduct physical examination in emergency: Conduct a thorough and detailed physical examination of the patient in emergency situations, using assessment skills such as observation, palpation, and auscultation and formulating diagnoses across all age ranges, followed by the calling for specialist when available.
- Observe confidentiality: Observe the set of rules establishing the nondisclosure of information except to another authorised person.
- Brief hospital staff: Brief hospital staff at arrival with a patient, giving an accurate report of the patient`s condition, circumstances of the accident, illness or injury and treatment given.
- Transfer patients: Use the most appropriate techniques to handle and move patients in and out of an ambulance, hospital bed, wheelchair, etc.
- Comply with quality standards related to healthcare practice: Apply quality standards related to risk management, safety procedures, patients feedback, screening and medical devices in daily practice, as they are recognized by the national professional associations and authorities.
- Cope with blood: Cope with blood, organs, and other internal parts without feeling distressed.
- Immobilise patients for emergency intervention: Immobilise the patient using a backboard or other spinal immobilisation device, preparing the patient for stretcher and ambulance transport.
- Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
- Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
- Employ specific paramedic techniques in out-of-hospital care: Use appropriate techniques in paramedical practice such as IV therapy, drug administration, cardioversion, and emergency surgical techniques.
- Apply health sciences: Apply a broad range of bio-medical, psycho-social, organisational, educational, and societal aspects of health, disease, and healthcare to improve healthcare services and to improve quality of life.
- Adhere to organisational guidelines: Adhere to organisational or department specific standards and guidelines. Understand the motives of the organisation and the common agreements and act accordingly.
- Work in a multicultural environment in health care: Interact, relate and communicate with individuals from a variety of different cultures, when working in a healthcare environment.
- Assess nature of injury in emergency: Assess the nature and extent of injury or illness to establish and prioritise a plan for medical treatment.
- Address problems critically: Identify the strengths and weaknesses of various abstract, rational concepts, such as issues, opinions, and approaches related to a specific problematic situation in order to formulate solutions and alternative methods of tackling the situation.
- Promote inclusion: Promote inclusion in health care and social services and respect diversity of beliefs, culture, values and preferences, keeping in mind the importance of equality and diversity issues.
- Interact with healthcare users: Communicate with clients and their carer’s, with the patient’s permission, to keep them informed about the clients’ and patients’ progress and safeguarding confidentiality.
- Ensure safety of healthcare users: Make sure that healthcare users are being treated professionally, effectively and safe from harm, adapting techniques and procedures according to the person’s needs, abilities or the prevailing conditions.
- Tolerate stress: Maintain a temperate mental state and effective performance under pressure or adverse circumstances.
- Apply organisational techniques: Employ a set of organisational techniques and procedures which facilitate the achievement of the goals set. Use these resources efficiently and sustainably, and show flexibility when required.
- Develop a collaborative therapeutic relationship: Develop a mutually collaborative therapeutic relationship during treatment, fostering and gaining healthcare users’ trust and cooperation.
- Apply context specific clinical competences: Apply professional and evidence based assessment, goal setting, delivery of intervention and evaluation of clients, taking into account the developmental and contextual history of the clients, within one`s own scope of practice.
- Position patients undergoing interventions: Position or immobilise patients correctly for safe and effective interventions.
- Manage acute pain: Handle patients with acute pain and ease their pain accordingly.
- Work in multidisciplinary health teams: Participate in the delivery of multidisciplinary health care, and understand the rules and competences of other healthcare related professions.
- Administer medication in emergency: Administer medications in an emergency, as prescribed by a monitoring physician.
- Operate an emergency communication system: Efficiently operate common communication systems used in emergencies, such as base station mobile transmitters and receivers, portable transmitters and receivers, repeaters, cellular phones, pagers, automated vehicle locators, and satellite phones as required.
- Prioritise emergencies: Determine the level of risk of an emergency situation and balance the dispatch of ambulances to emergency situations accordingly.
- Accept own accountability: Accept accountability for one`s own professional activities and recognise the limits of one`s own scope of practice and competencies.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of paramedic in emergency responses. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Evaluation methodologies in paramedic practice: Methodologies which allow the combination of theory and empirical evidence to develop and carry out effective paramedic practice.
- Dietetics: The human nutrition and dietary modification for optimising health in clinical or other environments. The role of nutrition in promoting health and preventing illness across the life spectrum.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of paramedic in emergency responses. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Educate on the prevention of illness: Offer evidence-based advice on how to avoid ill health, educate and advise individuals and their carers on how to prevent ill health and/or be able to advise how to improve their environment and health conditions. Provide advice on the identification of risks leading to ill health and help to increase the patients’ resilience by targeting prevention and early intervention strategies.
- Decontaminate ambulance interior: Decontaminate the interior of the emergency vehicle following treatment of a patient with infectious disease.
- Communicate in foreign languages with health service providers: Apply foreign languages in communicating with health service providers such as doctors and nurses.
- Employ foreign languages for health-related research: Use foreign languages for conducting and collaborating in health-related research.
- Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
- Employ foreign languages in care: Communicate in foreign languages with healthcare users, their carers, or services providers. Use foreign languages to facilitate patient care according to the needs of the patient.
ISCO group and title
3258 – Ambulance workers
- Paramedic in emergency responses – ESCO
- EMTs and Paramedics : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Paramedic Job Description – Indeed.com
- Paramedic job description template – Workable
- Featured image: Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels