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The Paramedic Science Program

Paramedics respond to everything from automobile accidents and heart attacks, to drownings, gunshot wounds and heat exhaustion. Paramedics provide the same level of care to patients in the ambulance that patients initially receive at the hospital. This immediate attention is often the difference between life and death.

Paramedics are typically dispatched to scenes via 911 operators and often work closely with police and fire department personnel in the field. Once they arrive on scene, paramedics determine the nature and extent of the patient's condition, whether there are preexisting medical problems and whether the patient needs to be transported to the hospital. In some events, paramedics are able to treat patients with minor injuries (like falling or blood sugar problems) at the scene of the accident without having to transport them to a medical facility. In more severe cases, emergency treatment for complicated problems is carried out under the direction of medical doctors, by radio or phone, preceding or during patient transport.

Student studying for exmas

Paramedics are trained to provide intravenous therapy (place IVs), administer medication and use other tools like heart rate monitors and electrocardiography (ECG) equipment. Generally, one paramedic will drive the ambulance while the other monitors the patient's vital signs and provides additional care as needed in transit. Once they arrive at the medical facility, paramedics help transfer patients to the emergency department and provide an in-depth hand-off report to hospital staff. Some paramedics also work on helicopter flight crews which transport critically ill or injured patients to hospital trauma centers.

While a paramedics' primary scope of practice is to assess patients and prevent/reduce morbidity, paramedics' roles are being expanded. Some emerging responsibilities include public education, health promotion and integrated healthcare (also known as community paramedicine). As the role continues to expand, paramedics will also facilitate access to care, as well as act as first responders.



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