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What is a Volunteer EMT?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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A volunteer EMT (emergency medical technician and/or paramedic) is a trained individual who works for varied organizations to provide emergency medical care as needed. Typical places of employment for the volunteer EMT include hospitals, fire departments and ambulance companies, and strong need may exist for these professionals. This is especially the case in small communities where emergency services aren’t required on a regular basis. In these instances the community may look to volunteers who will help should the need arise.

It would be a mistake to assume that a volunteer EMT is not performing a paid job because he or she is not trained. There are different levels of EMT studies. Usually anyone who will be a direct responder to accidents or emergencies must have completed some training.

Moreover, in the US, certification is required to work as EMT, and certification can’t be achieved without training. As mentioned, different levels of training exist, and people can find various certification programs through many community colleges and four-year colleges. Most volunteers will need at least basic training (taking the shortest amount of time). Clearly an EMT who is licensed to do more complex actions may be received well by an employer seeking volunteers.

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There may be different ways that the volunteer EMT works. Sometimes these professionals will put in lots of hours a week, at least as on call workers. Other times they might spend two or three days a month as volunteers. Depending on the organization for which they work, and the size of the community, days on call or at work might not be that busy. On the other hand, even in a tiny community, accidents or illnesses can happen and people might need assistance.

One of the peculiarities of volunteer EMT service can occur especially in very small areas. The volunteers end up helping those they very likely know. In large cities, though EMT service can be absolutely professional and fantastic, it may lack this familiarity, which some patients may feel is to their advantage. They might not want a neighbor picking them up after they’ve intentionally hurt themselves, gotten sick from an illness they didn’t to want to disclose, or merely committed one of the many foolish acts that may cause injury.

It should relieve people to know that in most cases, any EMT, small town/big city or paid/volunteer, is bound to honor patient confidentiality. A volunteer EMT in most cases not only will not, but also legally cannot discuss patient condition with others. Small communities should be both relieved that this is the case, and proud that members of their community are working to serve them in an emergency medical capacity.

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