Paramedics & EMTs

EMS workers lift someone on a stretcher into the back of an ambulance.

What is the difference between a paramedic and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)? 

An EMT has undergone basic Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provider training including CPR, bandaging and splinting, and administering oxygen. 

A paramedic begins with EMT training and then undergoes an advanced level of training that includes inserting breathing tubes, starting intravenous (IV) lines, and administering medications.

To illustrate, imagine that someone collapses in sudden cardiac death and a bystander calls 911. An EMT arrives first on a fire engine. The EMT would begin CPR, administer rescue breaths using a bag-valve-mask and oxygen, attach an automatic external defibrillator (AED), and shock or defibrillate the patient if so instructed by the AED.

Then a paramedic on an ambulance arrives. The paramedic would attach a manual heart monitor/defibrillator, interpret the electrocardiogram (ECG), and defibrillate if needed. The paramedic would insert a breathing tube in the patient’s trachea, start an IV, and give potent medicines such as epinephrine through the IV.

Broadly speaking, EMTs have basic training and provide emergency care in a non-invasive manner. Paramedics undergo more advanced training that includes invasive treatments and medication administration.

Within the Cosumnes Fire Department, all ambulances and first-responders (fire engines and fire trucks) are staffed by at least one paramedic. Other personnel on these units are trained at least to an EMT level.