First Responder to Paramedic Overview
The first level of pre-hospital medicine is training as an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), formerly called First Responder. . Emergency Medical Responder is a broad term that means the first person on the scene of a medical or trauma emergency. However, there is a first responder course that anyone 18 years old or older may take called "First Responder." This course is not currently offered by TTU. This is a course that lasts approximately 3 months or 60 hours. Upon successful completion of this course the candidate will take a comprehensive test given by National Registry of EMTs. When the candidate receives a passing score, a certificate is awarded by the State of Tennessee. This certificate allows a person be a part of a rescue squad, fire department, etc. An EMR is not allowed to work on an ambulance in the State of Tennessee. If that is a person's desire, then more training is needed. The Emergency Medical Responder training is not a prerequisite to becoming an Advanced EMT. It is simply a type of training to obtain more knowledge in pre-hospital medicine. Many people take this training so they know what to do in the event of an emergency, but have no desire to make this a career.
The next level is now called Advanced EMT but will still be recognized by the State of Tennessee as EMT-IV. This designation will change sometime in 2013 or 2014. EMT is an abbreviation that means "Emergency Medical Technician." The "IV" is an abbreviation that means "Intravenous Therapy", not "4". It is the second level a person may earn to enter pre-hospital medicine. However, it is the minimum level a Tennessee resident needs if they plan to work on an ambulance.
EMTs were originally trained to work on ambulances and fire departments. However, in the last few years more and more are working in clinics and emergency departments at hospitals. It is a very exciting and rewarding career, but is also very demanding mentally and physically.
To become an EMT requires 8 months of training. There is time spent in the clinical setting with an ambulance service and in the hospital emergency department. At the end of the course the graduate will take a comprehensive test that is given by the National Registry for EMTs. Upon successfully passing that test, the State of Tennessee Division of EMS will issue a license as an EMT-IV.
The highest level a person may achieve in pre-hospital medicine is called Paramedic. The original name of this license was called EMT-Advanced, but so many used the term paramedic that it became the norm. To become a Paramedic requires the person to be licensed as an EMT-IV first. A person may go from EMT-IV right into training to be a Paramedic, but it is not always advisable since that person may not understand what pre-hospital healthcare is all about. The job market for Paramedics is quite large and more opportunities arise all the time.
To become a Paramedic requires 11 months of training after the EMT-IV course. The clinical portion of this course is very extensive. Clinical is conducted at several ambulance services and various departments in the hospital. Advanced skills such as intubation and cardiac monitoring are taught in this course.