EMS units work out of ambulances, fire departments and hospitals. Oftentimes emergency medical services are in place where the risk of an accident or health crises is high, such as ski areas, professional sports events and dangerous job sites like offshore oil rigs.
EMS are staffed by trained medical professionals, called EMTs, or emergency medical technicians. There are several different levels of EMT, depending on the location, including EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and EMT Paramedic – and many different requirements to be an EMT. An EMT basic is the most elementary level of EMT training, but it allows the practitioner to do important life saving functions, such as bandaging wounds, treating burns, doing CPR and stabilizing spine and neck fractures and broken bones. Becoming an EMT Basic requires specialized training in Basic Life Support (BLS), which takes an average of about six months to complete.
EMS also employs paramedics who have Advanced Life Support (ALS) training. Paramedic training involves rigorous schooling, which takes about two years to complete, depending on state requirements. A paramedic’s scope of treatment includes performing life saving procedures such as tracheal incubation and I.V. support, as well as the Basic Life Support functions performed by a basic EMT. All levels of EMTs must be certified at the state level.