Purpose and Mission
A paramedic is a healthcare professional trained provide out-of-hospital emergency care to the community. Paramedics provide lifesaving medical interventions to injured or seriously ill individuals, and stabilize the patient during the trip to the hospital. Sometimes paramedics are called “Ambulance Paramedics”, referring to the typical workplace for these healthcare professionals
Paramedics work for a wide variety of organizations, including hospitals and clinics, and in some cases, as national or local government employees. Most paramedics work in ambulances or at public venues or events that involve large crowds. Paramedics often report to senior paramedics or senior dispatchers or an emergency care supervisor at a hospital/clinic.
Less experienced paramedics have relatively few supervisory responsibilities. Senior paramedics, however, may have a range of supervisory responsibilities including training new paramedics, mentoring and performance reviews. Other supervisory responsibilities include documentation of daily activities and reviewing inventory of supplies and medicines.
Given that there is no national standard in Australia regarding the education and training of paramedics, qualifications to become a paramedic are established by individual states. Most states mandate that paramedics complete a university degree (Bachelor Degree in Paramedic or Health Science), typically requiring three or four years, and then an internship with hands-on training for another one or two years.
A Diploma of Paramedical Science (Ambulance) is still accepted by a few employers of paramedics for entry-level positions, but this educational pathway is closing today as the vast majority of employers now require university-based undergraduate or postgraduate education.
Responsibilities of a Paramedic
The primary responsibility of a paramedic is to respond to medical emergencies. She assesses patients, stabilizes them, and as required arranges for transport to a healthcare facility for ongoing care or suggests alternative treatment or care options.
A paramedic has to make complex clinical judgements on the spot without direct supervision from a doctor. Paramedics are typically required to maintain regular professional development, which is often provided by their employers
These healthcare professionals are often stationed at community centers, colleges, large industrial facilities and public event-type settings. Also keep in mind that paramedics play an important role in responding major industrial safety incidents or natural disasters such as fires or floods.
Paramedics typically work as a member of a two-person crew in an ambulance with a stretcher and other medical devices and equipment. Sometimes paramedics work by themselves.
Most, but not all, calls answered by paramedics are life threatening. The most common medical emergencies relate to trauma, heart attacks and strokes, but paramedics also commonly deal with diabetic emergencies, seizures, allergic reactions, falls and other blunt trauma. That said, the role of the paramedics is evolving. With an aging population ages and a notable increase in mental illnesses in many communities, paramedics are being asked to try and solve social and mental health problems much more often. Of note, given their daily routine involves interacting with all types of people in the community, paramedics are in the ideal position to provide medical advice and healthcare education across the community.