Our guide to being a paramedic

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Paramedics are usually the first on the scene in case of a medical emergency. They provide critical pre-hospital aid to people suffering from conditions that could range from choking and heart attacks to broken bones and gunshot wounds. Under these circumstances, they work with just one other team member and have to make life-saving decisions on the spot and under great pressure.

Being a paramedic is a highly responsible role. The decisions you make in those crucial first few minutes can make the difference between life and death.

To practice as a paramedic in Australia you will need to complete a training course from an accredited program and register with the ambulance service of your state. Understandably this is not a career choice to be considered lightly. The requirements of the role are very rigorous and the training aims to ensure that you are up to it.

Training to be a paramedic

While the exact requirements and duration may differ from one state to another, all states require you to have a minimum 3 years of full-time study and hands-on practical experience before you can practice independently.

Earning a high school diploma or equivalent is a prerequisite for enrolling in any paramedic training programme.

Most training programmes typically include three levels of training:

Level 1 – EMT Basic Training: EMT or Emergency Medical Technician training typically focuses patient assessment and treatment of fractures, trauma, respiratory management, cardiac emergencies, airway obstruction and bleeding. During this programme, students spent a lot of time training in ambulances and hospital emergency departments.

Level 2 – EMT Advanced Training: The use and administration of airway devices, intravenous fluids, and medication are introduced during this level. Students are required to complete about 400 hours of training at the EMT advanced level to be eligible for the paramedic programme.

Level 3 – Paramedic Training: At this level coursework focuses on more advanced emergency medical treatment measures. Depending on the type of programme you are enrolled in, you will earn an Associate’s Degree in Emergency Medical Technology or Certification in EMT.

While an Associate’s degree is not mandatory, it does lead to better job potential and higher opening salaries.

Here are some of the Universities in Australia that offer accredited paramedical programmes:

  • Griffith University
  • University of Western Sydney
  • Flinders University
  • University of Southern Queensland
  • Victoria University
  • James Cook University

Requirements of the job

This is not a job for the weak-hearted. Besides being knowledgeable in a wide range of injuries and medical conditions, you must also be able to stay detached from the horrific scenes you are likely to encounter in this job and make crucial life-saving decisions on the spot.

Physical strength is an important requirement of the job as you may have to single-handedly assist patients into the ambulance or turn them over to dress their wounds.

Being a paramedic may be rigorous but there’s one thing all paramedics agree on: nothing can beat the feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing that you are saving lives.

 

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.

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