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Thread: Best/quickest way to become a paramedic?

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    Forum Member nojo fire axe 's Avatar
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    Default Best/quickest way to become a paramedic?

    I was told that in order to be a paramedic you first have to ride with an ambulance for a year, is there any truth to that? How do you get hired on with a ambulance company with out being a paramedic? What's the best/quickest way to become a paramedic?thanks
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    Quote Originally Posted by nojo fire axe View Post
    I was told that in order to be a paramedic you first have to ride with an ambulance for a year, is there any truth to that? How do you get hired on with a ambulance company with out being a paramedic? What's the best/quickest way to become a paramedic?thanks
    I would suspect that would a state-specific requirement.

    Call either your state EMS agency or a college that teaches paramedic in your state.
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    This is a state-by-state requirement.

    Here, you have to be an EMT for a year before you can apply for a paramedic program, have letters of recommendation, and pass an interview before you even start the class. The class itself is 2+/- years long.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nojo fire axe View Post
    I was told that in order to be a paramedic you first have to ride with an ambulance for a year, is there any truth to that? How do you get hired on with a ambulance company with out being a paramedic? What's the best/quickest way to become a paramedic?thanks
    To some extent, the process will vary from state to state and potentially from program to program. In my state (PA), the only real requirement is that you have to be an EMT before you can enroll in a paramedic program. Some training programs may require a certain amount of experience as an EMT in order to enroll in their program, others don't.

    As for getting hired without being a paramedic, you just have to apply to ambulance companies that utilize EMTs. In my area, the typical staffing of ambulances is 1 EMT and 1 Paramedic.

    As for the best/quickest way to become a paramedic, there's really not a simple answer for that, but finding the right program is an important part of the process. Equally, if not more important, is not enrolling in a program before you are truly ready for it.

    Although, experience as an EMT is not always required, if your goal is to become a good paramedic and not be one that just scrapes by, get some EMT experience first. I would recommend at least 1-2 years as an EMT at minimum, depending on where you get that experience. One year full-time at a busy, urban service could provide more actual experience than 5 years at a slow, suburban or rural service.

    ALS care is not a substitute for BLS care. Having a solid grasp on the BLS aspects of providing care before you attempt to learn and master the ALS aspects of providing care will not only pay dividends during class, but after too. It's very difficult to adequately learn the ALS stuff if you're still trying to learn the BLS stuff at the same time.

    I've been precepting paramedic students off/on for the past 10+ years and the best students, with few exceptions, are those that have strong BLS skills and experience before trying to add the ALS skills. You are short-changing yourself and somewhat wasting your preceptor's time if they have to spend their time getting you up to speed on EMT stuff, when they should be teaching you Paramedic stuff.
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    Thanks! My end goal is to be with fire&rescue but also have good training and experience as a paramedic to be the most valuable asset I can possibly be.
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    Forum Member nojo fire axe 's Avatar
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    Right now I am trying to find the most helpful things to do between now and July 2015 when I go to an academy I want to get started now in any way possible! Thought maybe "explorers" but not sure if that's worth it only to do it for a year? Any thoughts on ways to get started now? By the way I'm 17 years old, just a fact to have under consideration while thinking about ideas.thanks
    Last edited by nojo fire axe ; 05-12-2014 at 07:14 PM.
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    Are you out if high school?

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    If you're still in high school, you need to look at post high school education, ie; college. It would be helpful for you to post what state you are in, because that can make a BIG difference. You need to think about, and research what kind of service you want to work for, and what they pay. You could be a paramedic working for a private ambulance service, and make $12 an hour. Or you could be making $30. There's a big range of pay rates depending on the kind of service and the location. A good way to go is to find a small college or techincal school that offers paramedic certification or even an Associate's degree. Another way to go is the National Guard or Reserves. If you go in as a "medic", you will earn your National Registry EMT basic certification. That's a good start.
    WARNING: The military has a strong tendancy to Suck. Ask me how I know. You are still young and impressionable, and probably gung-ho to an extent, so that helps. If you can put up with some BS, you can get a good head start, and earn some money,
    MOST IMPORTANT, do some research first, what ever you do. Figure out where you'd like to live, what job opportunities there are there, and how you can get trained to do that job.

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    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    A small bit of advice from an old dinosaur EMS provider.

    Whatever you do:
    Do NOT take an accelerated medic mill class.

    Do get into an accredited College program that offers the total program to complete a degree in Paramedic sciences.

    Prehospital care is changing rapidly, Without a degree in the future your choices to practice prehospital medicine will be limited.
    Community Paramedicine is coming, will you be up to the challenge?
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    Forum Member nojo fire axe 's Avatar
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    All good advise to consider!thanks... What is community paramedicine? And I understand how valuable advise from" an old dinosaur " is , that is what my old man is in his field as a dental technician. Priceless advise!thx
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    Forum Member nojo fire axe 's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    If you're still in high school, you need to look at post high school education, ie; college. It would be helpful for you to post what state you are in, because that can make a BIG difference. You need to think about, and research what kind of service you want to work for, and what they pay. You could be a paramedic working for a private ambulance service, and make $12 an hour. Or you could be making $30. There's a big range of pay rates depending on the kind of service and the location. A good way to go is to find a small college or techincal school that offers paramedic certification or even an Associate's degree. Another way to go is the National Guard or Reserves. If you go in as a "medic", you will earn your National Registry EMT basic certification. That's a good start.
    WARNING: The military has a strong tendancy to Suck. Ask me how I know. You are still young and impressionable, and probably gung-ho to an extent, so that helps. If you can put up with some BS, you can get a good head start, and earn some money,
    MOST IMPORTANT, do some research first, what ever you do. Figure out where you'd like to live, what job opportunities there are there, and how you can get trained to do that job.
    yes I am still in high school but I will graduate next January I have taken control of my school schedule via home studies, and have a lot of flexibility this was imperative to accomplish my goals, so now it's left me with flexibility to work with. It would not be that difficult to take some classes at the same time. But either way I will be going to a fire academy in July 2015. I Just really want to do something to aid in my career while I'm waiting.oh and I'm in Colorado and would like to reside in Denver or Fort Collins.
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    Forum Member nojo fire axe 's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    If you're still in high school, you need to look at post high school education, ie; college. It would be helpful for you to post what state you are in, because that can make a BIG difference. You need to think about, and research what kind of service you want to work for, and what they pay. You could be a paramedic working for a private ambulance service, and make $12 an hour. Or you could be making $30. There's a big range of pay rates depending on the kind of service and the location. A good way to go is to find a small college or techincal school that offers paramedic certification or even an Associate's degree. Another way to go is the National Guard or Reserves. If you go in as a "medic", you will earn your National Registry EMT basic certification. That's a good start.
    WARNING: The military has a strong tendancy to Suck. Ask me how I know. You are still young and impressionable, and probably gung-ho to an extent, so that helps. If you can put up with some BS, you can get a good head start, and earn some money,
    MOST IMPORTANT, do some research first, what ever you do. Figure out where you'd like to live, what job opportunities there are there, and how you can get trained to do that job.
    I personally have no interest in joining the military,just want to become the best rescue firefighter I can become.
    You can call me what ever you like...just don't call me late to dinner.

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    I second what others have said. As a paramedic myself my advice is to find an paramedic program that is also associates degree. Dont just get a diploma is pretty much the same amount of time so you are better off getting the degree as well. Look at local community colleges.

    As for the speed factor 2 years is pretty standard for paramedic. I was a first responder for a few years before I got my EMT-B then three months later I enrolled in a paramedic program.
    Some programs may require that you have been an EMT for a certain amount of time but in my experience a lot do not.

    Most will do interviews prior admission to the program. Of course they require you to be certified as a EMT-B prior to starting paramedic. All of them do that is part of the DOT requirements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nojo fire axe View Post
    I was told that in order to be a paramedic you first have to ride with an ambulance for a year, is there any truth to that? How do you get hired on with a ambulance company with out being a paramedic? What's the best/quickest way to become a paramedic?thanks
    Let me be brutally blunt with you about EMS. It is not for everyone. Some people love it and live for it, some people do it because it is part of the job and accept it, some people do it because it is part of the job and hate it, and some people just are not cut out for EMS work.

    Before you spend time and money to get a paramedic license join a volunteer EMS organization, get your EMT and run a while to see if it is indeed what you want to do. It may save you a ton of time and money if it isn't what you decide you want.

    Good luck either way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nojo fire axe View Post
    yes I am still in high school but I will graduate next January I have taken control of my school schedule via home studies, and have a lot of flexibility this was imperative to accomplish my goals, so now it's left me with flexibility to work with. It would not be that difficult to take some classes at the same time. But either way I will be going to a fire academy in July 2015. I Just really want to do something to aid in my career while I'm waiting.oh and I'm in Colorado and would like to reside in Denver or Fort Collins.
    You might look I to getting into emt b school as soon as you graduate

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    Quote Originally Posted by nojo fire axe View Post
    I personally have no interest in joining the military,just want to become the best rescue firefighter I can become.
    The military part was just an option. And just what do you mean by "rescue firefighter"?? That's not a commonly used term, and somewhat vague. If you're looking to do more firefighting than EMS, that's going to narrow your choices greatly. The truth is, we do much more on the EMS side these days. So if you want to be busier, fire based EMS is probably where you want to end up, because you will have more options.

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    Unless you go to work in an inner city environment with lots of old construction buildings , Actual "fire calls " will be less than 20% of total volume for the department.
    EMS is becoming the majority of the call volume.

    Community Paramedicine is going outside the "normal" EMS scope of answering 911 calls and taking preventative care and home followup care to the customers,without waiting for them to be in a severe emergency.

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    I believe the paramedic program at our CC tests out for each step (BLS, Critical Care, PM) with the state tests - once you finish your first couple of semesters you should have a card to practice "in the streets." It's a good idea. Many squads in areas served by such schools are used to dealing with the students (you have to do ride time anyhow) and may welcome you as a field provider with open arms.

    EMS isn't all flash-bang razzle-dazzle. It's drunks, old folks (who have fallen and can't get up), "general illness," and extricating people who should have stopped several (hundred) bags of chips ago from the second floor down a narrow stairway because they can't walk.

    You'll see folks who are their own worst enemy, but expect you to make it better. Every now and then you'll get a nice juicy full arrest, or an MVA with major trauma. But most of the time it'll be heartburn and stubbed toes. At 3AM.

    I admire your desire. But time in the real world of EMS is important before you go whole-hog with a paramedic degree (or any degree, for that matter). A word of advice, though - make your decision to work in the field based on your experience. As others have noted, this field isn't for everyone - and those for whom it isn't their cup of tea will certainly have nothing good to say about it. Take what they say with a grain of salt.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    A small bit of advice from an old dinosaur EMS provider.

    Whatever you do:
    Do NOT take an accelerated medic mill class.

    Do get into an accredited College program that offers the total program to complete a degree in Paramedic sciences.

    Prehospital care is changing rapidly, Without a degree in the future your choices to practice prehospital medicine will be limited.
    Community Paramedicine is coming, will you be up to the challenge?
    This is good advise, Get a degree. I am going back to get mine as we speak so when community paramedicine gets here "and it's coming faster than most think" I'll be ready.

    Good luck.
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    Nothing wrong with being excited at the prospect of getting to where you want to be, but this is a great instance of getting the most out of the journey. There's a lot to learn going from "interested" to emt-B, and 10x more going from tech to medic.

    Good advice so far, and should you decide you like the basic stuff, it would behoove you to search out a high quality program. One that will provide you with classroom time, opportunities on the road in an ambulance, and time in a hospital E.D. That way you'll get controlled environments to learn and practice the material, real world experience with a preceptor looking over your shoulder, and a place to see what happens to your interventions and how they affect longer-term patient outcomes.

    That's the "best" way to do it. Finding the "fastest" would do you a disservice now and your partners and patients a disservice over the course of your career.
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