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EMT Basic Job Description

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EMT Basic Job Description

Emergency medical technicians provide first-line treatment for injuries and illnesses and transport patients to healthcare facilities for additional treatment. EMT-Basic, the field’s entry-level designation, prepares technicians to handle the most common types of medical emergencies.

EMT Job Description

EMT-Basics assess injuries and illnesses and offer life-saving assistance, although they’re not permitted to perform the more advanced or invasive treatments that an EMT-Intermediate or paramedic can offer. As an EMT-Basic, you may perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, operate an automatic external defibrillator, clear airways, splint broken bones, apply bandages, provide oxygen, monitor vital signs, assist in childbirth, respond to mental health emergencies and coordinate care with nurses and physicians.

EMT-Basics also assist EMT-Intermediates and paramedics and clean and stock equipment and supplies. Some EMTS may drive ambulances if the emergency response team doesn’t include a dedicated driver.

Soft skills are just as important as concrete EMT basic duties. In many cases, you’ll meet patients on the worst days of their lives. The ability to empathize and provide much-needed reassurance will help make stressful situations a little easier for patients and worried family members.

No two days, or even two hours, are ever the same when you work as an EMT. In the course of a single day, you may respond to a car accident, help a pregnant woman give birth, splint a broken leg and transport an elderly patient from a hospital to a skilled nursing facility.

Emergency medical technicians regularly encounter stressful situations and must be able to make sound decisions quickly. As part of the job involves moving and transporting patients, you must be capable of lifting, balancing and re-positioning patients. You may also be expected to work overnight or weekend shifts and be able for overtime hours.

EMT aren’t just employed by fire departments. In fact, an EMT-Basic job search may also reveal openings in private and government ambulance services, hospitals and air ambulance companies.


EMT classes are often offered by community colleges, fire departments or trade schools. You must be at least 18 years old and possess a high school diploma or equivalent before beginning classes. Some EMT programs require a criminal background check or previous certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

EMT-Basic classes cover a variety of subjects, including medical terminology, basic anatomy, airway management, assessment skills, types of emergencies and medical ethics. Successful completion of 120 to 150 classroom and training hours is a requirement for most EMT-Basic programs.

Completion of the Basic EMT program is a prerequisite to obtain the EMT-Intermediate or paramedic designation.


All 50 states require new EMTs to obtain licenses. Depending on local requirements, you might take a certification test offered by your state, or you would complete an examination provided by the National Registry of Emergency Technicians to obtain your license. Examinations include a written portion and a hands-on demonstration of your skills. You’ll need to take continuing education courses and pass recertification exams every two to three years to maintain your license.

Salary and Job Outlook

In 2017, the median annual wage for EMTS and paramedics was $33,380, with EMTS employed by hospitals earning the most, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. EMT and paramedic employment is expected to grow 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, due in part to the aging population of Baby Boomers.