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A Career in Emergency Medical Services


Brentwood EMS provides ride-along opportunities for individuals interested in learning more about a career in EMS.  We provide the opportunity to spend observation shifts with our staff during a normal shift. For more information, please contact Brentwood EMS at 412-884-8740.  There are different levels of training available to EMS personnel.


What is a First Responder?

A first responder course in generally 40 - 50 hours in length offered by CCAC and the Center for Emergency Medicine. It is often a starting point for high school students interested in a career in EMS. This training provides basic emergency medical care principles. Many firefighters, police officers and industrial safety teams take this course because they can be the first persons to arrive at the scene of an emergency.


What is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)?

EMT’a are often the first level or entry-level training course in the field of EMS. EMTs are trained at the basic life support level that includes oxygen administration, vital sign monitoring, spinal and extremity immobilization and automatic external defibrillation (AED) and other non-invasive skills.

Requirements to be an EMT you must:

Be at least 16 years old

Enjoy working with people

Perform well under stressful situations

Complete a 120 hour classroom state approved course

Pass the state practical and written skills examinations

Re-certify every three years

Participate in continuing education training


What is a Paramedic (EMT-P)?

An individual who desires to become a paramedic must first complete the EMT program and state examinations. A paramedic student will engage in a more in depth study of pathophysiology of body functions and illness/diseases. Many new, more advanced skills are introduced as well as a unique discipline in which a close relationship and understanding between Doctor and Paramedic must be developed. The paramedic is the eyes, ears and hands of the physician at the scene of an accident, private residence, nursing home, restaurant or other public settings. Through key history gathering and physical assessment a paramedic can determine the need for airway management, ventilatory support, intravenous therapy, medication administration, spinal and extremity immobilization as well as cardiac defibrillation/cardioversion and transthoracic pacing. These are just a few of the specialized skills a paramedic renders by following approved protocols established by a physician medical director.

To be a Paramedic you must:

Be certified as an EMT

Complete 600 hours of classroom training

Complete 400-500 hours of clinical (in hospital) and field training

Pass the state written examination

Maintain a minimum of 18 hours continuing education per year

Be granted Medical Command privileges from a licensed board certified emergency medicine physician


Nature of EMS Work

People's lives often depend on the quick recognition and care of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics. Incidents or calls for help fall into three basic categories: Emergency calls, Non-emergency calls and Public Service calls. Emergency calls include automobile accidents, heart attacks, falls with various injuries, diabetic emergencies; difficulty breathing and gunshot wounds all require immediate medical response and attention. EMS personnel also respond to non-emergency call requests that involve the transporting of patients to and from a medical facility. Public service calls are assigned as emergency or urgent calls at the time of dispatch and are only then classified public service calls after EMS or other public safety personnel assess the situation. These types of calls may or may not involve a patient at time of dispatch or may not result in treatment and/or transport to a hospital. For example, EMS will respond to fire, carbon monoxide and medical alert alarm activations, as well as motor vehicle accidents with unknown or possible injuries. EMS personnel also provide public education training and health-monitoring programs, such as blood pressure monitoring clinics.

Working Conditions

EMS personnel work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. The work schedules vary widely due to the nature of providing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week services. They are required to do considerable kneeling, bending and heavy lifting without notice or certainty of the needs for the service. Safety is a very important EMS training component that involves proper lifting a moving techniques, an annual review of contagious diseases such as Hepatitis and AIDS virus to avoid exposure, and due to societal violence, a heightened awareness of avoiding personal harm while attempting to provide emergency care. In addition to the physical demands of EMS, EMTs and Paramedics must learn to manage the emotional drain that occurs after being exposed to patients and their families who endure pain and suffering or face life-or-death situations. Nonetheless, helping someone in need or correcting a life-threatening situation can be the most rewarding experiences you will ever encounter.

Job Outlook

Employment of EMTs is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2008. Much of this growth will occur as positions change from volunteer to career and as population grows particular older age groups that are the users of emergency medical services.

Possible employment opportunities:

Municipal EMS agencies

Fire Department based EMS

Emergency Dispatch Centers

Aeromedical (Flight) Programs

Hospitals/Home Health Care

Private Ambulance Services



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