Certified EMTs are valuable members of the pre-hospital emergency care team, ambulance services, and a variety of rescue agencies in a basic life support (BLS) role. Law enforcement and fire personnel are also trained as emergency medical technicians. EMTs are often the first training medical care to arrive at the scene when someone is badly hurt, injured, or suffering from medical trauma.
The EMT must be able to quickly understand the patient's medical condition, evaluate pre-existing conditions, and determine appropriate on the scene action, whcih can include treatment for minor problems, emergency transport to the hospital, or even emergency treatments for more complicated problems under the direction of doctors via radio. EMT's and paramedics may use special equipment such as backboards to immobilize patients before placing them on stretchers and securing them in an ambulance for transport to a medical facility.
Training includes all aspects of emergency basic life support. This includes the treatment of traumatic injuries such as bleeding, wounds, shock, fractures, and medical problems such as respiratory and cardiac problems, allergic reactions, diabetes, and stroke. Courses include the use of basic care equipment such as splints, c-collars, backboards, airway management devices, and the automated defibrillator. Medications learned include oxygen, activated charcoal, ipecac, inhalers, epinephrine auto-injectors, oral glucose, and nitroglycerin. EMT courses also cover medical/legal topics, medical terminology, triage, and critical incident stress.