People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of paramedics. Incidents as varied as automobile accidents, heart attacks, slips and falls, childbirth, and gunshot wounds all require immediate medical attention. Paramedics provide this vital service as they care for and transport the sick or injured to a medical facility.
In an emergency, paramedics are typically dispatched by a 911 operator to the scene, where they often work with police and fire fighters. Once they arrive, paramedics assess the nature of the patient’s condition while trying to determine whether the patient has any pre-existing medical conditions. Following medical protocols and guidelines, they provide appropriate emergency care and, when necessary, transport the patient. Some paramedics are trained to treat patients with minor injuries on the scene of an accident or they may treat them at their home without transporting them to a medical facility. Emergency treatment is carried out under the medical direction of physicians.
Paramedics may use special equipment, such as cardiac monitors to interpret a patient’s heart rhythm as well as backboards to immobilize patients before placing them on stretchers and securing them in the ambulance for transport to a medical facility after they have suffered from a medical emergency or traumatic event. These workers generally work in teams. During the transport of a patient, one paramedic drives while the other monitors the patient’s vital signs and gives advanced prehospital care as needed. Some paramedics work as part of a helicopter’s flight crew to transport critically ill or injured patients to hospital trauma centers from remote locations.
At the medical facility, paramedics help transfer patients to the emergency department, report their observations and actions to emergency department staff, and may provide additional emergency treatment. After each run, paramedics replace used supplies and check equipment and complete important patient care reports for the emergency physicians. If a transported patient had a contagious disease, paramedics take extra time to safely decontaminate the interior of the ambulance and report cases to the proper authorities.
Paramedics also provide transportation for patients from one medical facility to another, particularly if they work for private ambulance services. Patients often need to be transferred to a hospital that specializes in their injury or illness or to a nursing home. This may be around the block or across the nation.
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