Part time EMT?
January 5, 2010 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I am wondering about pursuing EMT certification for a part time job or a way to volunteer. I don't want to pursue a full time career, just supplemental. Is this feasible for that job and environment? Any advice on the best types of EMT jobs that can be part time? I am in Seattle but perspective from anywhere is great.
posted by kturner to Work & Money (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I had, for a long time, my WFR certification (wilderness first responder), which is equivelent to an EMT-A, really all I needed to do was spend some time on ride-alongs and I'd have had the EMT. I still would very much like to get my WEMT.

WFR's can do lots of really fun things that regular first responders can't, like nasopharyngeal airways and tracheal airways and setting traction on broken/dislocated bones and joints.

I used my WFR often, both in running with a wilderness SAR team to my day-to-day job at a youth program to stopping at car accidents.

One interesting thing of note that may or may not apply to your state is that once you are certified to a standard of care, you are expected to perform that standard of care WHENEVER IT IS NEEDED. That means you MUST stop at accidents, you MUST perform CPR, you must utilize your training to the best of your ability whenever it is called for.

Also, advanced life saving is NOT part of most Good Samaritan law, especially if you fuck up w/i your standard of care. My state provides protections for EMT's and equivalents, which is nice, it meant I didn't need to carry insurance on myself.

Carrying around an EMT bag in your car/truck is pretty rad, and knowing that you can take care of business wherever you might go is pretty sweet too. The downside is that the equipment is EXPENSIVE and I've never found a place to get non-reusable gear replaced for any kind of discounted rate.

Sometimes you can get an ambulance crew to toss you some replacement bandages/whatever you used up before they got there...sometimes not.

I was never paid, I always volunteered. Around these parts, non paramedics are lucky to get $10 an hour. Para's are lucky to see 15.
posted by TomMelee at 8:34 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

It would vary by location, but most EMT jobs are twelve hour shifts. This would make it easy for you to work a part time schedule. Usually, you could specify with the company which days you do or don't want to work on. Many EMT jobs are called transport jobs. That means picking patients up, usually from nursing homes, then taking them to hospitals or dialysis centers and back again. I'm not sure how many EMT's handle emergency 911 stuff since the certification really limits the kind of care they can give.

One issue for you might be cost. Again, this would vary by location, but the certification course could be as much as $1,000, which might not be the best idea, especially since you don't want to make a career of it.
posted by Shesthefastest at 8:40 AM on January 5, 2010

I know a lot of EMT's that work in the ER and elsewhere in the hospital (as described here); that sort of work might have more scheduling flexibilty, especially if you can find a PRN position.
posted by TedW at 8:55 AM on January 5, 2010

I have a friend that did EMT work as a pt time supplemental. She was a replacement worker, and then occasionally did rural area several day shifts. This was in Canada.
posted by kch at 9:04 AM on January 5, 2010

Although it's incidental in response to your question, I'd like to clarify some information in TomMelee's reply. Legislation can vary by state, but EMTs are generally not required to stop at accidents they witness off-duty. Most people would do so out of moral obligation, and they are generally protected by good samaritan law because they are responding in their capacity as a private citizen and not a professional role. (Good samaritan laws vary by state, and it's a good idea for everyone to have at least a basic understanding of their local legislation.) As an EMT, you practice under the medical direction of an authority that defines your protocols and the scope under which you're expected to perform them. Pulling out your personal trauma bag and doing things that are outside your scope of practice (even outside the area in which you're expected to perform your skills) is an invitation to get sued and lose your certification. Few of the other professionals I know carry more than basic gear needed to provide the same first aid that any knowledgeable person would perform. Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, and my knowledge of the law extends only to what applies to me in my job.

As for your questions, I think EMT certification might provide a marginal foot in the door for some hospital tech work, and you could also find some part-time work doing hospital transports as Shesthefastest mentions if you're not looking at making it a full-time career. I suggest calling around to the local inter-facility transport companies and asking whether they hire basic EMTs and whether they anticipate any openings. This might give you an idea of the marketability of the certification in your area.
posted by itstheclamsname at 9:30 AM on January 5, 2010

I am not an EMS worker, but my mother and stepfather are heavily involved in emergency fire and medical services in their township. (In fact, that's how they met!) What you want sounds a lot like what my mother did for many years, so I'll tell you a little about her.

Mom was certified as an EMT-Basic and volunteered as an EMT for our township. Our township does call in six-hour increments, so she would be scheduled for, say, six PM to midnight and respond to calls which were toned out by dispatch during that time. Sometimes she would stay at home and drive to the fire station if a call came out, then board the ambulance to respond with the other EMS workers. Sometimes she would hang out at the fire station while she was on call and respond from there, which a lot of volunteers do. (Depending on where you are, this can be a big social thing and a great incentive for doing EMS work.)

Some volunteer first responders do get paid for going out on calls, which can help defray the cost of certification if nothing else. It's pretty rare for volunteers to be paid for being on call, and if they are the pay is minimal. Unfortunately, I can't speak to the pay scale or availability of volunteer positions in Seattle.

Most volunteer positions require certification (obviously) and residency in the area you will be responding in. If you live in an urban area which hires full-time first responders (I suspect Seattle may be one), you may have trouble finding a volunteer position.

A good place to find out about this kind of thing is your local technical college. Many of them teach first responder courses (EMT, paramedic, firefighting, etc) and have relationships with local emergency services.

If you do pursue EMT certification, do everything you can to make sure you get a good instructor. Instructors are highly certified and regulated, but still the quality of instruction varies and can make huge difference in your experience with EMS.
posted by yomimono at 9:32 AM on January 5, 2010

I should also mention that this is in Wisconsin.
posted by yomimono at 9:35 AM on January 5, 2010

A good way to learn about EMTs and volunteering in Seattle is to take the Emergency Response course at the Seattle Red Cross. The instructors of that course are plugged into the local community, and there are a couple of wrinkles about training and volunteering in King County that they will inform you about.

It's a good first step towards figuring out what you want to do next, and there are lots of different paths available in this area. (Wilderness or Mountain First Responder, EMT, other stuff.)

Also, it will be easier to get into one of the EMT courses in the Seattle area (NSCC or down in Tacoma) if you take this class first. There are lots of volunteer positions available for people who have First Responder/Emergency Response training, and there are a couple of paid part time jobs that require it around, but most of them are summer things.

The next class starts Jan 16th, you will need to take and pass the CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer class that meets on Jan 12 first.

Good luck. I took this class and use it volunteering, it was great.
posted by corprew at 9:47 AM on January 5, 2010

you will need to take and pass the CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer

Yes, definitely do this first. You'll need to have a current CPR card to do just about anything; in some places you even need one before you can do a ridealong as an EMT student.

Also: most EMT-B classes include a certain amount of "clinical" and then a certain amount of "ridealong" time. Clinical time you generally spend in the ED of a local hospital, ridealong time you spend actually going on calls on a BLS ambulance. Do as much of this as you can. If you don't get any good calls when you're doing your clinical or ridealong time, see if you can come back again.

Everything else that has been said is good information, so that's really all I have to add. Volunteer EMS can be an incredibly rewarding activity, if you have the time free and are committed to it. Make sure that you want to do it and can handle the time commitment before you get involved in a local department, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:03 PM on January 5, 2010

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