Benjamin Brewer, AMT’s director of quality improvement and education, spoke at the June 3 meeting about the training times of a basic emergency medical technician compared to a paramedic (Advanced Life Support).
Standards for the Illinois Department of Public Health for an EMT include 180 hours of training including 16 in hands-on training in a hospital or ambulance.
“I was an EMT for several years before I became a paramedic, and it’s a very hard job so I don’t make light of that just saying 180 hours,” Brewer said.
A paramedic has 1,100 hours of training, including 600 hours of clinical training — broken down into 480 hours in the ambulance and 120 hours in the hospital. Brewer added that AMT trains up to 1,250 hours.
The major difference between the two can be boiled down to patient assessment, he said, and then what can be done for the patient.
He explained procedures and medications that paramedics can give.
Brewer gave five real-life scenarios in easy-to-understand terms on what paramedics can do for shortness of breath/asthma attack, a seizure, chest pain, cardiac arrest and a motor-vehicle accident/trauma. After giving the treatment of each one he said those scenarios had been used for a Chillicothe patient.
One tool paramedics can use is a 12-lead EKG.
“Putting someone on a cardiac monitor is like trying to take a view of somebody’s house by looking through a window. You just get a little bit. You don’t get the full picture. A 12-lead EKG is actually applying multiple different electrodes to a patient’s chest and actually taking a full look at their heart to see where damage would be occurring and what would need to be changed. It’s actually walking in that patient’s door and taking a look around the house is what the 12-lead does to the heart,” Brewer said.
Alderwoman Trish Connor asked who normally staffs the ambulances. Brewer said at minimum, one EMT-Basic and one paramedic are in the ambulance, but there could be two paramedics depending on the shift.
Highlights of Chillicothe ambulance calls since Sept. 4, 2012 (when AMT began service)
Chief complaints (since 9/4/12)
Trauma (accident, fall) — 58
Cardiac — 42
Respiratory — 38
Stroke/seizure/altered level of consciousness — 53
ALS interventions (since 9/4/12)
IVs — 268
EKG — 272
12-lead monitor — 139
ALS medications — 276