Paramedics respond to ambulance calls providing critical care to patients in need of urgent medical attention (e.g. victims of accidents, violence, and sudden illness, such as cardiac arrests or strokes). They then transport these patients to hospitals or other healthcare facilities for further medical care, keeping patients stable while they’re in transit by using advanced equipment (e.g. oxygen masks, ventilators, and defibrillators) and medical supplies. They also clean, dress, and bandage minor and major injuries, as required.
Paramedics are also responsible for other non-urgent transfers, whether they transport people leaving the hospital after treatment or from one hospital to another. They usually transport patients by land, but some might also do it by air or water.
Paramedics usually work in pairs, teaming up with other qualified paramedics such as emergency care assistants or ambulance technicians, all of which can be employed by hospitals, fire departments, government departments, private ambulance services, and other private sector establishments.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Paramedics are required to complete.
- Responding to medical and traumatic emergencies while complying with standard operating procedures, policies, and directives.
- Diagnosing patients and providing basic life support to seriously ill patients:
- Inserting drips, administering pain relief, and dressing wounds;
- assessing extent of injuries or illness of patients to determine proper treatments; and
- providing advanced emergency medical treatments to patients, administering oxygen therapy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), spinal immobilization, bandaging, and medications, as required.
- Collaborating with ambulance dispatch centres, hospital staff, police, firefighters, and family members to ensure relevant information is collected and proper treatment is administered.
- Complying with safety standards at all times, taking precaution measures to avoid infection and contamination:
- Safely operating emergency vehicles and medical equipment; and
- ensuring the vehicle and its medical equipment are in excellent functioning condition by completing various safety, inventory, and maintenance tasks.
- Maintaining accurate and confidential medical records in accordance with established protocol:
- Documenting and recording nature of injuries and treatment provided.
- Assisting in the emergency room, as required:
- Assisting hospital personnel with provision of medical treatment; and
- assisting with emergency patients’ triage.
- Responding to medical and traumatic emergencies providing basic life support to seriously ill patients.
- Administering proper treatments and medication, directing cares, and providing guidance at the scene.
- Safely operating and maintaining emergency vehicles and medical equipment.
- Maintaining medical records and documenting nature of injuries and treatment provided.
The average Paramedic salary is $55,630 per year or $29 per hour. This is around 1.7 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $39,000 while most experienced workers make up to $78,000. These results are based on 69 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, especially verbally, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with patients;
- displaying strong customer service skills, setting high standards of patient care and safety; and
- being able to work cohesively as part of a team, dealing with a diverse group of people, always conveying a positive image and building positive relationships with others.
- Exceptional ability to work under pressure in challenging settings:
- Having strong multitasking skills; being exceptionally flexible, able to deal with a broad variety of dynamic, fast-paced environments; and
- being able to face both emotionally and physically demanding situations
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner using critical thinking and good judgment; and
- being able to analyze, assess, and diagnose the patient’s condition in order to provide him with the proper treatments.
- Organizational skills:
- Being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities.
- Significant use of memory and exceptional attention to detail.
- Trustworthy enough to manage sensitive/confidential information.
Aside from the skills listed above, Paramedics must have completed a degree in Emergency Medical Technology (EMT-P), Paramedical Science, Medicine and Surgery, or have obtained any other equivalent certification.
Additional credentials are usually required and will vary according to the Paramedic’s location. In Canada, these credentials include, but are not limited to, the following:
- National Paramedic Certification;
- Registration with the provincial/territorial regulatory body;
- National Health Professions Council Membership;
- Basic Cardiac Life Support – Healthcare Provider (BCLS-HCP) and/or Basic Life Support (BLS) Certifications;
- International Trauma Life Support (ITLS) and/or Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) Certifications;
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) Certification;
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and/or Pediatric Education for the Pre-Hospital Professional (PEPP) Certifications;
- Trauma Nursing Core Courses (TNCC);
- Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) Certification; and
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Certification.
Most Paramedic positions require between 1 and 3 years of ambulance experience administering critical care. Paramedics also need to own a valid driver’s licence and demonstrate advanced driving skills, as well as an in-depth knowledge of emergency medical procedures, including medical terminology and medications.
Since the emergency medical service operates on a 24/7 basis and all work is carried out in planned shifts, Paramedics must be able to work flexible schedules, including regular and irregular hours, such as weekends and national holidays.
Paramedics’ work is both emotionally and physically demanding, hence why they must demonstrate exceptional stress management skills, as well as excellent fitness, stamina, and agility. They work on their feet all day and often lift patients and heavy equipment, therefore, they are usually required to take pre-hire physical tests and other medical examinations. Most employers will also administer criminal background checks as well.