EMT's vs Paramedics

When a person calls 911 with a medical problem, EMTs are sent to help. Depending on the severity of the emergency, a paramedic unit may also be dispatched.

Often EMTs and Paramedics are considered interchangeable. However, there are a number of differences.


EMT's (Basic Life Support)

  • Receive about 240 hours of primary training with continuing education courses year round
  • Provide a level of care known as basic life support – patient assessment, CPR, bandaging, splinting broken bones, administration of oxygen, defibrillation and some administration of drug interventions.
  • As part of the local rescue squad, EMTs ride in an ambulance and are responsible for transporting a patient to the hospital

Paramedics (Advanced Life Support)

  • Receive about 1,200 to 1,800 hours of training, and are often awarded a two-year degree
  • Trained and certified to provide advance life support – administer drugs orally and intravenously, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs), perform endotracheal intubations, and use monitors and other complex equipment
  • Are affiliated with a hospital and staff a mobile intensive care unit (MICU) that follows the ambulance to the hospital, while one paramedic joins the patient in the ambulance