Helping hands in a crisis: Emergency medical services offer opportunities
Paramedics and emergency medical technicians are a lifeline in times of crisis. Careers in the emergency medical field offer excitement and reward.
Jackson Community College offers educational programs for students hoping to become a paramedic, advanced emergency medical technician, emergency medical technician – basic, and medical first responder. The College offers both an associate degree and certificate program in paramedic, the emergency health care professional who performs many more advanced procedures, including administering drugs, interpreting electrocardiograms (EKGs), performing endotracheal intubations, and using monitors, manual defibrillators and other complex equipment. Advanced emergency medical technicians also do some more advanced care such as IV administration but not to the same extent as paramedics, while EMT-basic is the minimum level for advanced life support. Medical first responder offers basic knowledge of assessment and care, and is taken by EMTs as well as fire, police and other rescue workers. JCC offers a concentration and skill set for EMT-basic, while medical first responders take EMS 113, a five credit hour course.
On the job, a 911 operator usually calls out EMTs and paramedics, who often work in tandem with police or fire on the job, and they always relay information back and forth from medical staff at a hospital. Given those demands, having good communications skills are a must for all EMS personnel. Communicating with patients also requires good communication skills. Because paramedics and EMTs see people at their worst, having empathy, compassion and understanding are vital. They do need to be physically fit, as the job will require a great deal of bending, kneeling and lifting. Students should have good basic level reading, math and writing skills.
“Our job is similar to detective work, you have to be able to pull information out of sick people and patients or assess what treatments need to be done,” said Clark Imus, instructor and EMS program coordinator at JCC. “The other skill would be team work, working well with others. Everything we do is done with partners and with teams, so team work is a huge component of that.”
Jobs are plentiful now in emergency medical services, and with the Baby Boomer generation getting older, the demand for workers is expected to grow to meet the rising need. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers are expected to grow 33 percent in the next several years, much faster than average. After completing their courses, students are eligible to take a National Registry Exam to become state licensure. Salaries range from $30,000-$40,000. JCC is working toward accreditation of its program, something that will be necessary for students in the future who want to become licensed nationally.
“The career is very rewarding, you are there to help people,” Imus said. “It’s is great for people who are hands-on, and you see something new every day.”
It is the perfect program to launch a health care profession, a stepping stone to radiography, respiratory therapy, sonography, and nursing. This program opens doors for students that can think quickly on their feet and enjoy the fast-paced lifestyle of emergency health care.
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