Emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, work unpredictable hours, because emergency services are needed all hours of the day and night. An EMT provides emergency care and transportation to the sick or injured. They need to be able to respond when needed with very little notice, and they need to be able to remain calm and alert at all times.
EMTs who work for private ambulance services may work a wide variety of hours. Some ambulance services schedule EMTs to work 12 hours shifts, such as 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. EMTs that work for other ambulance services may work a 24-hour on-call shift, followed by 24 to 48 hours off. Because emergency care has to be available around the clock, EMTs may end up working 50 or 60 hours a week to be sure there is a professional available at all times. When not actually at work, these heath care professionals may need to remain on call, and may have to respond at a moment’s notice in the event of an emergency.
Many fire departments employ trained EMTs. For some candidates, working as an EMT may be a stepping stone to becoming a firefighter. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fire-department EMTs may work extremely unpredictable hours, varying between 8-hour shifts and 10-hour shifts, usually working a total of about 50 hours a week. They may also work for 24 hours, followed by 48 hours off. It isn’t possible to predict how many emergencies may come up on the same night, and at times it may be necessary to work longer hours than expected.
Emergency medical technicians that are employed by hospitals may work somewhat more predictable hours, such as scheduled 8- or 12-hour shifts. Although emergency medical technicians who work in a hospital environment may work more predictable shifts than EMTs who work for an ambulance service, they still have to be willing to work extra shifts when needed.
Emergencies occur both indoors and outdoors, so the work environment can be as unpredictable as the hours. At times, emergency care may be required in many different settings, such as in the pouring rain, in the middle of a football field or at the scene of an automobile accident, and a trained EMT has to be able to remain professional, even when fatigued by working long shifts. The number of hours an EMT is required to work, as well as the specific duties performed can vary based on the level of training and the place of employment. It isn’t likely that an emergency medical technician can work a set number of predictable hours. It is important for a candidate that is interested in becoming an EMT to be willing to work whenever needed.