Careers in paramedics
Published on: Monday, September 20, 2021
By: K Krishnan
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WHEN there is an emergency such as an accident, fire, disaster, flood, earthquake or a sudden commotion, we often ring up 999 for help. An ambulance arrives to take the injured to the hospital.  From the time the ambulance arrives till the victim reaches the hospital, many things can happen. The patient may be in pain, may lose blood, have breathing difficulties, may have a heart attack or in acute danger.  Usually during this short period the victim would be under the care of  “paramedics.” 

Who are paramedics? 

Paramedics care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings. People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care provided by these workers. Paramedics respond to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities. A 911 operator sends Paramedics to the scene of an emergency, where they often work with police and firefighters.

What do they do? 

Paramedics typically do the following:
  • Respond to 911 calls for emergency medical assistance, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or bandaging a wound
  • Assess a patient’s condition and determine a course of treatment
  • Provide first-aid treatment or life support care to sick or injured patients
  • Transport patients safely in an ambulance
  • Transfer patients to the emergency department of a hospital or other healthcare facility
  • Report their observations and treatment to physicians, nurses, or other healthcare facility staff
  • Document medical care given to patients
  • Inventory, replace, and clean supplies and equipment after use

When transporting a patient in an ambulance, one paramedic may drive the ambulance while another monitors the patient’s vital signs and gives additional care. Some paramedics work as part of a helicopter’s or an airplane’s flight crew to transport critically ill or injured patients to a hospital.

Paramedics also transport patients from one medical facility to another. Some patients may need to be transferred to a hospital that specializes in treating their particular injury or illness or to a facility that provides long-term care, such as a nursing home.

If a patient has a contagious disease, paramedics decontaminate the interior of the ambulance and may need to report the case to the proper authorities.

The specific responsibilities of Paramedics depend on their level of certification and the state they work in.  There are a few categories of Paramedics. Some are listed below for your information :-

(a) Emergency Medical Responders

EMRs are trained to provide basic medical care with minimal equipment. These workers may provide immediate lifesaving interventions while waiting for other emergency medical services (EMS) resources to arrive. Jobs in this category may also go by a variety of titles including Emergency Care Attendants, Certified First Responders, or similar.

(b) EMT- Basic  

An EMT-Basic, cares for patients at the scene of an incident and while taking patients by ambulance to a hospital. An EMT has the skills to assess a patient’s condition and to manage respiratory, cardiac, and trauma emergencies.

(c) Advanced EMT,

An EMT-Intermediate, has completed the requirements for the EMT level, as well as instruction in more advanced medical procedures, such as administering intravenous fluids and some medications.

(d)    Paramedics 

They provide more extensive prehospital care than do EMTs. In addition to doing the tasks of EMTs, paramedics can give medications orally and intravenously, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs) – which monitor heart function – and use other monitors and complex equipment.

The specific tasks or procedures EMTs and paramedics are allowed to perform vary by state.

Work environment

Most paramedics work with ambulance services. Some work with local government, government hospitals and private hospitals. Some work with voluntary bodies such as St John Ambulance Brigade, Red Cross, etc. 

Paramedics work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. Their work is physically strenuous and can be stressful, sometimes involving life-or-death situations.

Injuries and Illnesses

Paramedics are required to do considerable kneeling, bending, and lifting while caring for and moving patients. They may be exposed to contagious diseases and viruses, such as hepatitis B and HIV.  Sometimes they can be injured by combative patients.  During this Covid-19 epidemic, paramedics are badly in demand. Their presence is felt throughout the world.  Although it is a very risky job, these risks can be reduced by following proper safety procedures, such as wearing proper attire while working with a patient.

Work Schedules

Most Paramedics work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week. Because Paramedics must be available to work in emergencies, they may work overnight and on weekends. Some Paramedics work shifts in 12- or 24-hour increments. Volunteer Paramedics have variable work schedules. For example, they may work only a few days per week.

For further information

Students interested in becoming Paramedics need to undergo formal training. Currently training is provided by the Ministry of Health.  Usually the vacancies are advertised in the media. Several Private colleges and Universities in Malaysia also offer Diploma and degree courses in Paramedics. Please browse through their websites for details.  

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