Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics held about 226,500 jobs in 2010. They work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. Their work is physically strenuous and can be stressful, sometimes involving life-or-death situations and patients who are suffering. Most career EMTs and paramedics work in metropolitan areas. Volunteer EMTs and paramedics are more common in small cities, towns, and rural areas. These individuals volunteer for fire departments, providers of emergency medical services, or hospitals and may respond to only a few calls per month.
As shown below, almost half of paid EMTs and paramedics worked as employees of ambulance services in 2010. Others worked in hospitals or local government:
In 2010, about 22 percent of EMTs and paramedics belonged to a union or were covered by a union contract.
EMTs and paramedics experience a much larger than average number of work-related injuries or illnesses. They are required to do considerable kneeling, bending, and lifting while caring for and moving patients. They may be exposed to contagious diseases, such as hepatitis B and AIDS. Sometimes they can be injured by mentally unstable or combative patients. These risks can be reduced by following proper safety procedures, such as waiting for police to clear an area in violent situations or wearing gloves while working with a patient.
Most EMTs and paramedics work full time. About one-third worked more than full time in 2010. Because EMTs and paramedics must be available to work in emergencies, they may work overnight and on weekends. Some EMTs and paramedics are volunteers and have varied work schedules.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition
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