Oswego County Health Department

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Emergency Medical Services


Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTS) deliver pre-hospital emergency care at the scene of an injury or sudden illness. The EMT, whether paid or volunteer, is a vital link in the chain from the emergency scene to the hospital. The first steps taken by an EMT can mean the difference between life and death for the patient. EMTs care for patients by using basic life support skills, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), bleeding control techniques, fracture care, defibrillation (AED) and assistance in childbirth. EMTs use their skills under the supervision of a physician, through radio communication and written protocols.

Some EMTs are trained to provide specific advanced life support:

  • The EMT-Critical Care provider establishes intravenous life lines and provides advanced airway maintenance.
  • The EMT-Critical Care provider is able to administer some medications and provide additional advanced life support skills.
  • The EMT-Paramedic administers advanced cardiac care and medications.

Each level above EMT adds additional dimensions to the caregiver's capabilities.

Description of Tasks

EMTs respond quickly, but safely, to emergency calls. Upon arrival, the EMT assures that the scene is safe and then takes immediate steps to correct any life threatening problems by checks against the ABCs of emergency care: Airway, Breathing and Circulation. This may include inserting an artificial airway, giving artificial ventilation and doing CPR.

Next, problems that are not immediately life threatening, but may become so if not corrected, are assessed and treated. The EMT must search for medical identification bracelets or necklaces. If needed, the EMT treats shock, immobilizes fractures, bandages wounds, provides initial care to poison and burn victims or provides other needed care.

The EMT is part of a patient care team. As such, it is essential for the EMT to write down what is found about the patient (for example, injuries and vital signs), and what care is provided to the patient. This information becomes an important part of the patient's hospital record. It is used by the physician in diagnosing the patient and assures that the emergency department staff will quickly treat any problems the EMT has detected in the field.

Once the patient can be safely moved, the EMT makes sure he/she is placed in the ambulance and continues to assess the patient and provide necessary emergency care during the trip to the hospital.

After the call is completed, the EMT assures that the ambulance is fully stocked, clean and ready for the next call.


By state regulation, the EMT must be at least 18 years old. Generally, the knowledge and skills required show the need for a high school education or equivalent.

An EMT must complete a state-approved course and achieve passing scores on a practical skills and written examination.

Most employers require a valid driver's license and prefer a safe driving record.


If the sponsoring agency is funded by New York State, there is no charge for taking an EMT course. The trainee may be required to purchase a textbook.

Special Characteristics

The EMT's job requires the following skills and physical abilities:

  • ability to lift, carry and balance up to 125 pounds;
  • ability to interpret written, oral and diagnostic form instructions;
  • ability to use good judgment and remain calm in high-stress situations;ability to be unaffected by loud noises and flashing lights;
  • ability to calculate weight and volume ratios;
  • ability to read English language manuals, road maps, street signs and address numbers;
  • ability to document, in writing, all relevant information in prescribed format;
  • ability to converse in English with coworkers and hospital staff as to the status of the patient;
  • ability to bend, stoop and crawl on uneven terrain;
  • ability to withstand varied environmental conditions such as extreme heat, cold and moisture;
  • ability to work in low light and confined spaces.

Previous related training or experience may be helpful but is not required for entry into an EMT training program.

Other Jobs in EMS

  • EMS dispatchers provide the critical communication link between the public and the EMT.
  • Vehicle and equipment maintenance personnel are essential to the smooth operation of any EMS agency.

Questions about Oswego County EMS?