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Emergency Medical Services Work Conditions
Emergency Medical Services


EMTs and paramedics care for sick or injured patients in a pre-hospital setting
EMTs and paramedics care for sick or injured patients in a pre-hospital setting.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics held about 239,100 jobs in 2012. 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 paid 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.

The industries that employed the most paid EMTs and paramedics in 2012 were as follows:

Ambulance services 48%
Government 30
Hospitals; state, local, and private 17

Injuries and Illnesses

EMTs and paramedics have 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.

Work Schedules

Most paid EMTs and paramedics work full time. About 1 in 3 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2012. Because EMTs and paramedics must be available to work in emergencies, they may 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.

Last Modification: 01-26-2014