What Is an EMT vs. a Paramedic

An EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) is a healthcare professional who is trained to provide medical care in the event of medical and/or traumatic emergencies in the pre-hospital setting. Automobile crashes, heart attacks, strokes, near drownings, unscheduled childbirth, poisonings and gunshot wounds are some of the situations that might be encountered in which the EMT would be responsible for administering life-saving medical attention. There is a significant difference between being an EMT and being a paramedic; most do not realize there is a difference because of movies, television, and news media often confusing them.

EMTs determine the nature and extent of illness or injury and establish priorities for patient care. EMTs have specially equipped vehicles to transport their patients. These vehicles include equipment such as backboards to immobilize patients before placing them on the stretcher and securing them in the ambulance. To ensure proper treatment upon arrival the EMT will inform the hospital of the injuries or illness, the number of patients being transported and other pertinent information. EMTs will constantly monitor the patient's condition and provide additional care as needed.

The highest skilled pre-hospital provider is the paramedic. Paramedics are licensed healthcare professionals who provide the most extensive pre-hospital advanced life support. Paramedics provide care that is on par with that of the emergency room. During a medical emergency, paramedics can provide advanced life support care including: advanced airway management, endotracheal intubation (breathing tube), manual defibrillation, external transcutaneous pacing, EKG monitoring, 12-lead EKG acquisition, IV fluid therapy, intraosseous infusions, hemodynamic monitoring, needle chest decompressions, surgical airways, administration of a wide array of critical care medications and mechanical ventilation.

Indiana classifies emergency medical personnel into four categories: Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), and Paramedic. EMTs and paramedics work for private and volunteer ambulance services, fire departments, rescue squads, and hospitals. The scope of practice for EMTs and paramedics is constantly expanding, and providing emergency medical services in any role is challenging and rewarding for those who have chosen this field.