Emergency medical care programs teach people to rescue others and save lives. Students learn to respond to emergency calls. They learn to give medical care at basic, intermediate, and advanced levels under the remote supervision of physicians. Students at the basic level can help emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Students at advanced levels can work as EMTs or paramedics.
Critics of the popular television show "ER" say that it romanticizes emergency medicine and makes a soap opera out of it. Sure, you may not meet the love of your life while working in emergency medicine. But one thing does seem certain: there's nothing overly romantic about saving a life or delivering a baby.
Actually, "ER" usually shows only the action that erupts in the emergency room after EMTs and paramedics bring a patient in. In the past, this might have been appropriate. Emergency medical care used to be more about transportation than treatment. Today, however, a lot of emergency medicine can occur before patients have arrived at the ER. This is thanks to the work that EMTs and paramedics do.
EMTs stabilize their patients at the scene of an emergency or in an ambulance before taking them to the hospital. Patients might include victims of heart attacks, car crashes, gunshots, and poisoning. The time that EMTS spend giving immediate care to their patients is critical. For this reason it's sometimes called the "golden hour." In rural areas, where the nearest hospital may be many miles away, the role of an EMT is particularly important.
EMTs and paramedics need many hours of classroom instruction, medical training, and in-the-field experience. This preparation qualifies them to apply for certification to practice. There are about 300 emergency medical care programs offered by a variety of institutions, from community colleges to hospitals to private academies. You can get a certificate, associate degree, or a bachelor's degree in emergency medical care. This program of study is divided into several levels: first response, basic emergency medical technician, intermediate emergency medical technician, and paramedic.
Every county in every state has different certification requirements for each level. Moreover, the amount of time it takes to complete each level also varies from program to program. In general, however, certificates take one year of full-time study after high school. Associate degrees typically take two years. And a bachelor's degree usually takes four years.