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Emergency Medical Technician Working Conditions



Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics held about 241,200 jobs in 2014. Working conditions for EMTs can be very demanding. They work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. Their work is physically strenuous and can be stressful, sometimes involving life-or-death situations and patients who are suffering. Most career EMTs and paramedics work in metropolitan areas. Volunteer EMTs and paramedics are more common in small cities, towns, and rural areas. These individuals volunteer for fire departments, providers of emergency medical services, or hospitals and may respond to only a few calls per month.

Almost half of paid EMTs and paramedics worked as employees of ambulance services in 2014. Another 29% of EMTs work for local government organizations and 16% worked for hospitals.

Working conditions for EMTs and paramedics give them a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. They are required to do considerable kneeling, bending, and lifting while caring for and moving patients. They may be exposed to contagious diseases, such as hepatitis B and AIDS. Sometimes they can be injured by mentally unstable or combative patients. These risks can be reduced by following proper safety procedures, such as waiting for police to clear an area in violent situations or wearing gloves while working with a patient.

Most paid EMTs and paramedics work full time. About 1 in 3 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014. Because EMTs and paramedics must be available to work in emergencies, working conditions may involve work overnight and on weekends. Some EMTs and paramedics work shifts in 12- or 24-hour increments. Volunteer EMTs and paramedics have variable work schedules.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition


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