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People's lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. Incidents as varied as automobile accidents, heart attacks, slips and falls, and gunshot wounds require immediate medical attention. EMTs and paramedics provide this vital service as they care for and transport the sick or injured to a medical facility.
In an emergency, EMTs and paramedics are typically dispatched by a 911 operator to the scene, where they often work with police and fire fighters. Once they arrive, EMTs and paramedics assess the nature of the patient's condition, while trying to determine whether the patient has any pre-existing medical conditions. Following protocols and guidelines, they provide emergency care and transport the patient in an ambulance to a medical facility. Some paramedics work as part of a helicopter's flight crew to quickly transport critically ill or injured patients to hospital trauma centers.
EMTs and paramedics also provide transportation for patients from one medical facility to another, particularly if they work for private ambulance services. Patients often need to be transferred to a hospital that specializes in treating their injury or illness or to facility that provides long-term care, like nursing homes.
The specific responsibilities of EMTs and paramedics depend on their level of qualification and training. EMTs provide basic and intermediate care, while paramedics provide more extensive pre-hospital care than do EMTs. Paramedics receive additional training in anatomy and physiology as well as advanced medical skills. So in addition to carrying out the procedures of the other levels, paramedics administer medications, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs), and use monitors and other complex equipment.
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