The Paramedic Technology program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (www.caahep.org) upon the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP). Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, 1361 Park Street, Clearwater, FL 33756, (727) 210-2350
To prepare students to become competent, professionally prepared entry-level paramedics who meet state and national expectations within the profession
EMTs and paramedics work both indoors and out, in all types of weather. They are required to do considerable kneeling, bending, and heavy lifting. These workers are at a higher risk for contracting illnesses or experiencing injuries on the job than workers in other occupations. They risk noise-induced hearing loss from sirens and back injuries from lifting patients. In addition, EMTs and paramedics may be exposed to communicable diseases, such as hepatitis-B and AIDS, as well as to violence from mentally unstable or combative patients. The work is not only physically strenuous but can be stressful, sometimes involving life-or-death situations and suffering patients. Nonetheless, many people find the work exciting and challenging and enjoy the opportunity to help others. These workers experienced a larger than average number of work-related injuries or illnesses.
Many EMTs and paramedics are required to work more than 40 hours a week. Because emergency services function 24 hours a day, EMTs and paramedics may have irregular working hours.
Nature of the Work
People's lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. Incidents as varied as automobile accidents, heart attacks, slips and falls, childbirth, and gunshot wounds require immediate medical attention. EMTs and paramedics provide this vital service as they care for and transport the sick or injured to a medical facility.
In an emergency, a 911 operator typically dispatches EMTs and paramedics to the scene, where they often work with police and firefighters. Once they arrive, EMTs and paramedics assess the nature of the patient's condition, while trying to determine whether the patient has any pre-existing medical conditions. Following protocols and guidelines, they provide emergency care and transport the patient to a medical facility. EMTs and paramedics operate in emergency medical services systems where a physician provides medical direction and oversight.
EMTs and paramedics use special equipment, such as backboards, to immobilize patients before placing them on stretchers and securing them in the ambulance for transport to a medical facility. These workers generally work in teams. During the transport of a patient, one EMT or paramedic drives, while the other monitors the patient's vital signs and gives additional care, as needed. Some paramedics work as part of a helicopter's flight crew to transport critically ill or injured patients to hospital trauma centers.
At the medical facility, EMTs and paramedics help transfer patients to the emergency department, report their observations and actions to emergency department staff, and may provide additional emergency treatment. After each run, EMTs and paramedics document the trip, replace used supplies, and check equipment. If a transported patient has a contagious disease, EMTs and paramedics decontaminate the interior of the ambulance and report cases to the proper authorities.
Beyond these general duties, the specific responsibilities of EMTs depend on their level of qualification and training. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certifies emergency medical service providers at four levels: EMR-Emergency Medical Responder, EMT-Emergency Medical Technician, AEMT-Advanced Emergency Medical Technician, and Paramedic.
The EMT represents the first response of the emergency medical system. An EMT trained at this level is prepared to care for patients at the scene of an accident and while transporting patients by ambulance to the hospital under the direction of more highly trained medical personnel. The EMT has the emergency skills to assess a patient's condition and manage respiratory, cardiac, and trauma emergencies. The AEMT has more advanced training. However, the specific tasks that those certified at this level are allowed to perform varies greatly from state to state.
Paramedics provide more extensive pre-hospital care than do EMTs. In addition to carrying out the procedures of the other levels, paramedics administer medications orally and intravenously, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs), perform endotracheal intubations, and use monitors and other complex equipment. However, like the EMT-Intermediate level, what paramedics are permitted to do varies by state.
EMTs and paramedics held about 210,700 jobs nationally in 2008. 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, emergency medical services, or hospitals and may respond to only a few calls per month. Paid EMTs and paramedics were employed in a number of industries. About 45 percent worked as employees of ambulance services. About 29 percent worked in local government. Another 20 percent worked in hospitals. Employment of emergency medical technicians and paramedics is expected to grow 9 percent between 2008 and 2018.
Earnings of EMTs and paramedics depend on the employment setting and geographic location of their jobs, as well as their training and experience. Median hourly wages of EMTs and paramedics were $14.10 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $11.13 and $18.28. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.08, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $23.77. Median hourly wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of EMTs and paramedics in May 2008 were $12.99 in other ambulatory healthcare services and $15.45 in local government. In 2008, about 27 percent of EMTs and paramedics belonged to a union or were covered by a union contract.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition (http://www.bls.gov/oco/)
Student Learning Outcomes
Graduates of the diploma and associate degree programs in Paramedic Technology will demonstrate:
- Apply general medical and EMS knowledge in a healthcare setting
- Collect and interpret data from charts and patients
- Use sound judgment while performing a broad range of clinical skills in a healthcare setting
- Perform patient assessments and perform approved therapeutic procedures and modalities
- Use critical thinking skills to assess and treat patients in emergency settings and to communicate effectively in a healthcare setting
- Pass the National Registry of EMT's paramedic practical and written examination
- Demonstrate the personal and professional ethics and interpersonal skills that are expected in the workplace
The paramedic must be a confident leader who can accept the challenge and high degree of responsibility entailed in the position. The paramedic must have excellent judgment and be able to prioritize decisions and act quickly in the best interest of the patient, must be self-disciplined, able to develop patient rapport, interview hostile patients, maintain safe distance, and recognize and utilize communication unique to diverse multicultural groups and ages within those groups. The paramedic must be able to function independently at optimum level in a non-structured environment that is constantly changing.
Even though the paramedic is generally part of a two-person team working with a lower skill and knowledge level EMT, the paramedic is held responsible for safe and therapeutic administration of drugs, including narcotics. Therefore, the paramedic must not only be knowledgeable about medications, but must be able to apply this knowledge in a practical sense. Knowledge and practical application of medications includes thoroughly knowing and understanding the general properties of all types of drugs.
The paramedic is personally responsible legally, ethically, and morally for each drug administered, for using correct precautions and techniques, for observing and documenting the effects of the drugs administered, for keeping one's own pharmacological knowledge-base current as to changes and trends in administration and use, for keeping abreast of all contraindications to administration of specific drugs to patients based on their constitutional make-up, and for using drug reference literature.
The responsibility of the paramedic includes obtaining a comprehensive drug history from the patient that includes names of drugs, strength, daily usage, and dosage. The paramedic must take into consideration that many factors, in relation to the history given, can affect the type of medication to be given. Awareness of drug reactions and the synergistic effects of drugs combined with other medicines and in some instances, food, are imperative. The paramedic must also take into consideration the possible risks of medication administered to a pregnant mother and the fetus, keeping in mind those drugs may cross the placenta.
The paramedic must be cognizant of the impact of medications on pediatric patients based on size and weight, special concerns related to newborns and geriatric patients, and the physiological effects of aging such as the way skin can tear in the geriatric population with relatively little to no pressure. There must be an awareness of the high abuse potential of controlled substances and the potential for addiction; therefore, the paramedic must be thorough in report writing and able to justify why a particular narcotic was used and why a particular amount was given. The ability to measure and re-measure drip rates for controlled substances and medications is essential. Once medication is stopped or not used, the paramedic must send back unused portions to the proper inventory arena.
The paramedic must be able to apply basic principles of mathematics to the calculation of problems associated with medication dosages, perform conversion problems, differentiate temperature readings between centigrade and Fahrenheit scales, be able to use proper advanced life support equipment and supplies based on patient's age and condition of veins, and be able to locate sites for obtaining blood samples and perform this task, administer medication intravenously, administer medications by gastric tube, administer oral medications, administer rectal medications, and comply with universal precautions and body substance isolation, disposing of contaminated items and equipment properly.
The paramedic must also be able to apply knowledge and skills to assist overdosed patients to overcome trauma through antidotes and have knowledge of poisons and be able to administer treatment. The paramedic must be knowledgeable as to the stages drugs/medications go through once they have entered the patient's system and be cognizant that the route of administration is critical in relation to patient's needs and the effect that occurs.
The paramedic must also be capable of providing advanced life support emergency medical services to patients, including conducting of and interpreting electrocardiograms (EKGs), electrical interventions to support the cardiac functions, performing advanced endotracheal intubations in airway management and relief of pneumothorax and administering appropriate intravenous fluids and drugs under direction of an off-site designated physician.
The paramedic is a person who must not only remain calm when working in difficult and stressful circumstances, but must be capable of staying focused while assuming the leadership role inherent in carrying out the functions of the position. Good judgment along with advanced knowledge and technical skills are essential in directing other team members to assist as needed. The paramedic must be able to provide top quality care, concurrently handle high levels of stress, and be willing to take on the personal responsibility required of the position. This includes not only legal ramifications for precise documentation, but also the responsibility for using the knowledge and skills acquired in real life threatening emergency situations.
The paramedic must be able to deal with adverse and often dangerous situations, which include responding to calls in districts known to have high crime and mortality rates. Self-confidence is critical, as is a desire to work with people. Paramedics must have solid emotional stability, a tolerance for high stress, and the ability to meet the physical, intellectual, and cognitive requirements demanded by this position.
Aptitudes required for work of this nature include good physical stamina, endurance, and body condition that would not be adversely affected by frequently having to walk, stand, lift, carry, and balance weight that is at times in excess of 125 pounds. Motor coordination is necessary because over uneven terrain, the well-being of the patient, paramedic and other workers must not be jeopardized.
Response times for the nature of work are dependent upon the nature of the call. For example, a paramedic working for a private ambulance service that transports the elderly from nursing homes to routine medical appointments and check-ups may endure somewhat less stressful circumstances than the paramedic who works primarily with 911 calls in a district known to have high crime rates. Thus, the particular stresses inherent in the role of the paramedic can vary, depending on the place and type of employment.
The paramedic must be flexible to meet the demands of the ever-changing emergency scene. When emergencies exist, the situation can be complex and care of the patient must be started immediately. In essence, the paramedic in the EMS system uses advanced training and equipment to extend emergency physician services to the ambulance. The paramedic must be able to make accurate independent judgments while following oral directives. The ability to perform duties in a timely manner is essential, as it could mean the difference between life and death for the patient.
Use of the telephone or radio dispatch for coordination of prompt emergency services is required. Accurately discerning street names through map reading and correctly distinguishing house numbers or business addresses are essential to task completion in the most expedient manner. Concisely and accurately describing orally to dispatchers and other concerned staff one's impression of a patient's condition is critical as the paramedic works in emergency conditions where there may not be time for deliberation. The paramedic must also be able to accurately report orally and in writing all relevant patient data. At times, reporting may require a detailed narrative on extenuating circumstances or conditions that go beyond what is required on a prescribed form. In some instances, the paramedic may be required to enter data on a laptop while riding in an ambulance. Verbal skills and reasoning skills are used extensively.
The Higher Education Act requires all colleges and universities to notify students and prospective students of all program costs for which they will be responsible. Students will be responsible for the following expenses each semester (unless otherwise noted):
- Tuition ($75 per credit hour)
- Registration fee ($39)
- Student activity fees ($30)
- Accident insurance fee ($6)
- Instructional and technology supply fee ($55)
- Program supply fee (Varies - see course descriptions for exact amounts)
- Background check (Approximately $50 per required check)
- Clinical uniform (Approximately $75)
- Drug test (Approximate $25 per required test)
- Licensure examinations
- NREMT Practical Examination Fee ($100-$125)
- NREMT Written Examination Fee (Pearson Vue) ($110)
- Malpractice insurance ($47 per year)
- Physical examination (Approximately $150)
- Program equipment ($25)
- Program supply fee (Varies - see course descriptions for exact amounts)
- State Licensing Fee (Georgia OEMS) ($75)
- Test prep interactive software (Approximately $200)
- Textbooks (Approximately $1,250 for the associate degree program and $1,250 for the diploma program)
- FISDAP - Clinical Tracking System ($55)
These expenses are based on costs in effect at the time this catalog was published. Prices are subject to change.
Information on graduation rates, job placement rates, median loan debt incurred by students and other gainful employment information is available on the college website.
Applicants to the Paramedic Technology program must hold a valid Georgia Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediate license or Advanced Emergency Medical Technician license. The Paramedic Technology program uses a competitive admission process to select students. Program faculty and the Admissions Office staff designed the process to ensure maximum opportunity for student success in the program. Applicants to Paramedic Technology must complete the general education and health core courses prior to the selection process.
Applicants who are on academic probation or are academically dismissed from the college as of the application deadline will not be considered for admission. The Admissions Office staff admits students once per year at the beginning of Fall Semester. Applicants must submit all required documentation to the Admissions Office by June 15 of the year they seek admission in order to receive consideration in the selection process. Applicants not selected for the program may reapply during subsequent admission intake periods. The college does not maintain a waiting list of people seeking admission to the program.
Applicants must submit the following information by June 15:
- Completed and signed application for admission and a $20 nonrefundable application fee
- Official high school or GED transcripts and/or official college transcripts from all colleges attended in the past
- Completed and signed Intent form (blank forms are available in the Admissions Office and online at www.athenstech.edu/oldcatalog/programsofstudy.cfm - select Selective Admissions Forms)
- Valid COMPASS, ASSET, SAT, or ACT Test scores or proof of completion of English and math with a minimum grade of C (see COMPASS and ASSET Placement Tests)
- Proof of valid Georgia Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediate license or Advanced Emergency Medical Technician license
- Scores from a standardized health program placement examination, which will be used as part of the competitive selection process
- Proof of completion of ALL general core and health core classes with a minimum grade of C
Applicants will be invited to attend a mandatory program orientation session. Failure to attend this session or failure to make alternate arrangements to obtain the necessary information will result in the forfeiture of admission to the program.
Prior to the beginning of the program, applicants must have the following current official documents on file with program faculty:
- Documentation of a recent medical examination
- Proof of malpractice insurance (see Malpractice Insurance)
- A signed document acknowledging that the commission of a felony before or during their enrollment in this program may prevent graduates from taking the licensure exam to become paramedics and that they may be required to complete drug testing and/or background checks at their own expense prior to participating in internships, practicums, or clinical activities at certain host sites for these activities (see Drug Testing/Background Checks) (blank documents are available from the program chair or the Admissions Office and online at www.athenstech.edu/oldcatalog/programsofstudy.cfm - select Selective Admissions Forms)
- Completed immunization form
- Copy of current drivers license
- Criminal background check
- Valid Healthcare Provider CPR card from the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross
If students withdraw from the program for any reason, they must follow the steps detailed under Life Sciences Programs Readmission. In addition, students seeking readmission will abide by all policies and procedures in place at the time of their request for readmission.
Only in the event that the program slots cannot be filled with Georgia residents who meet the minimum admissions criteria can out-of-state students be admitted to the Paramedic Technology program.