Paramedic Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Paramedic, or Ambulance Assistant, is responsible for traveling to emergency medical situations to provide a range of care to patients. Their duties include assessing the patient and their environment, administering procedures like CPR and stabilizing patients for transport to the hospital if needed.

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Paramedic duties and responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of a Paramedic are specific to the particular situation at hand. Paramedics deal with a wide variety of emergency situations and are usually responsible for doing the following things effectively:

  • Provide emergency medical assistance, such as CPR or bandaging a wound
  • Quickly and efficiently assess a patient’s condition and determine the best course of treatment
  • Transport patients safely in an ambulance
  • Provide first aid or life support to patients who are sick or injured
  • Transfer patients to the emergency area of the hospital or other healthcare facility
  • Report what they saw and did to doctors, nurses or other healthcare staff
  • Document what kind of medical treatment was given to the patient from the moment of arriving at the scene to transferring the patient to the healthcare facility
  • Replace, clean and buy inventory of supplies and equipment
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What does a Paramedic do?

Paramedics typically work as a part of the emergency response team for fire departments, hospitals, ambulatory services, or rescue teams to treat patients at the scene. They work closely with Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters, and other medical personnel to help those in need of medical assistance. Their job is to reassure patients and talk them through the situation whether they need to set a broken limb, administer an IV or take their vital signs. They may also brief Doctors and Nurses about the patient and their vitals once arriving at the hospital.

Paramedic skills and qualifications

There are important skills and qualifications for Paramedics, which can be learned through education and experience. There are certain skills that are very unique to being a Paramedic including:

  • Listening skills to understand the patient’s extent of illness or injury
  • Since Paramedics lift, kneel and bend throughout their job, they need to be physically fit
  • Communication skills to speak clearly about the situation and procedures to patients and healthcare staff
  • Problem solving skills for quickly understanding the patient status and symptoms and for administering required treatment
  • Since Paramedics need to provide support to patients in life-threatening situations and under great stress, they should be compassionate
  • Interpersonal skills to work in teams and coordinate with others to handle stressful situations.

Paramedic salary expectations

A Paramedic makes an average of $36,781 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Paramedic education and training requirements

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.

These programs teach how to assess a patient’s condition, deal with cardiac and trauma emergencies and clear obstructed airways, among many other skills. Usually, instruction takes about 150 hours, done in an ambulance and hospital setting. Advanced training is around 400 hours and focuses on more complex skills. Once a Paramedic is EMT-certified, therey need to complete 1,200 hours of instruction which can lead to a formal associate or bachelor’s degree.

Paramedic experience requirements

To become a Paramedic, one usually needs to obtain training in a hospital and ambulance setting. These programs usually last a year or two and require hands-on experience assessing a candidate’s ability to handle different emergency situations. Paramedics can also gain experience working in a hospital as a nurse or in other first-responder positions, such as a firefighter or police officer.

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Frequently asked questions about Paramedics

 

What is the difference between a Paramedic and an EMT?

Although Paramedics and EMTs both provide timely assistance to emergency medical situations as a part of an emergency services team, they do have different qualifications and responsibilities. A Paramedic is a senior form of an EMT and they are also licensed healthcare professionals. They typically hold an associate-level degree and additional certification to work as a Paramedic. Paramedics also have a year or two of experience working as an EMT before they become a Paramedic. 

Because of their advanced qualifications, Paramedics can provide equally advanced medical care at the scene of an accident, including administering IVs, creating new airways and other tasks. EMTs typically perform duties under the instruction of a Paramedic and assist them in more advanced procedures to preserve a patient’s life.

 

What are the daily duties of a Paramedic?

On a typical day, a Paramedic starts by organizing their medical equipment and loading the emergency service vehicle to ensure they have everything they need for their job. Their team receives requests to attend car accidents, work accidents, crime scenes and other situations throughout the day. When they arrive at the scene, they immediately survey the area to identify injured patients and potential hazards that make the area unsafe. They assess their patients quickly, ask them questions and begin treatment at the scene. 

Paramedics work closely with EMTs to load patients onto stretchers and into ambulances. They ride with their patients to the hospital, continuously monitoring their vital signs and performing CPR. They go with their patients into the hospital to brief medical professionals. After each job, they sanitize the back of the ambulance and restock supplies to prepare for the next call.

 

What qualities make a good Paramedic?

A good Paramedic uses their knowledge of emergency medical procedures and their calm nature to administer excellent care to their patients. Paramedics should also adapt to different emergencies quickly as they may encounter anything from car accidents, house fires or crime scenes within a given workday. They also need to work well as part of a team to administer lifesaving treatment to patients. Further, a good Paramedic always strives to improve their medical knowledge by participating in continued education opportunities.

 

Who does a Paramedic report to?

A Paramedic typically reports to a Medical Doctor present at the scene or at the hospital. Paramedics might also report to the leader of a fire station, rescue team or ambulatory service like a Fire Chief or Manager of Emergency Services.

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