Life as a First Responder: Must-knows Before Becoming Part of an EMS System

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Ask anyone who has been under the Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and they will tell you how rewarding and stressful this field is. As a first responder, also known as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), you will be the first to arrive at the scene and be with the victims during one of the worst days of their lives. Seeing someone severely hurt, dying, or recently passed away can quickly turn your beautiful day into a dreadful one.

Such a career plays a crucial role in helping communities thrive. Without EMTs, many civilians will suffer for who knows how long or even experience a slow and painful death with no one knowledgeable enough to help them. They come to help people from all walks of life, with varying causes and different levels of pain and suffering.

For some people, they find working as an EMS provider to be quite rewarding. They live the thrill, the challenge, and the fact that they can help make a huge difference in other people’s lives. But before you say yes to the life of a first responder, there are a few things worth knowing about.

The Four Tiers of Ems

In EMS, there are four levels you need to know about. These are the Medical First Responder (MFR), the Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT-B), the Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), and the Paramedic or Emergency Medical Technician-P. Each level requires different types of EMT certifications, and training differs from one state to another.

Medical First Responders (MFR)

They know about the basics of prehospital care. They are skilled in providing bandaging, splinting, CPR, and automatic external defibrillator use. Their extent of medical knowledge is similar to that of lifeguards, firefighters, and police officers.

Emergency Medical Technician-basic (EMT-B)

EMT-Bs work either in the public and private sectors. They usually work on ambulances and are certified to administer IV and oxygen, and sometimes, endotracheal intubation. They can treat medical or trauma patients.

Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT)

AEMTs are knowledgeable in paramedicine and work under the supervision of a Paramedic. They know Anatomy and Physiology along with all the skills of MFRs and EMT-Bs. They know advanced techniques like prehospital medications and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure administration.

Paramedic or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

Paramedics hold the highest level of training and license among other levels of the EMS system. They are taught certain surgical interventions and can stabilize patients before they reach the hospital. They can perform what healthcare providers can do in ERs depending on what resources are available in the back of an ambulance.


Challenges of Being a First Responder

You will have to undergo a training program depending on the level of EMT you wish to pursue. Graduates will take the licensure exam for EMTs. Once you get your license, you are in for the long working hours and very challenging working environment.

It can be inevitable to work on infected patients. You will take on manual work and have to carry your patients carefully while working under strict deadlines. Work shift can last between nine and 12 hours, with you sometimes having to work night shifts, during weekends, and on holidays.

First responders can be victims of verbal and physical abuse. This usually happens when facing alcoholic patients and those battling substance abuse. Frequent exposure to such abuse is often the leading reason many first responders get involved in alcohol-related call-outs.

Since you will be facing numerous cases and meet people with different illnesses, injuries, and death, you can be at risk of getting traumatized. Your mental health can suffer if you don’t care for your health seriously. Mental health and wellness should always be a priority if you wish to pursue a career in EMS.

Rewards of Being in the EMS

One cannot deny just how rewarding the life of a first responder can be. You are among the first ones to help people in times of distress and help ease their pain, stop their bleeding, and even save them from sudden death. Your contributions to the community make it a satisfying career.

You get that sense of fulfillment knowing you managed to help others using your skills and knowledge. You get to put your training to great use. These also come in handy even if you are not on duty.

First responders increase the chances of patients surviving a terrible incident. They do more than arrive on the scene and offer rapid medical intervention. They are also helping people boost their chances of living and enjoy a normal life. If you are after a life-saving career and you don’t mind the stress, trauma, long hours, and brutal working environment, then you could be destined to become an EMT.

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