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Paramedicine is the area of medicine that covers the emergency treatment of people before they can get to a place like a hospital. Commonly, those people working in the field of paramedicine are known as paramedics or emergency medical technicians. Ambulance staff and emergency helicopter crews are examples of paramedics. Situations where paramedics help sick or injured people include the transport of ill people to hospital and treating people at accident scenes.
When a person becomes seriously ill or suffers an injury, he or she typically needs to get to a central health-care institution as quickly as possible. The people who give the patient medical attention, and provide transportation to hospital, are those who work in paramedicine. In order to give the person the necessary care, the paramedics are trained in performing essential medical procedures, and they are also typically capable of taking control of a situation. Calming a patient and having the driving skills necessary to get the person to hospital as quickly as possible are also major components of paramedicine.
One subset of paramedicine is the care of people who fall ill naturally. Often, a person becomes sick rapidly, without enough warning for the patient to find another way to hospital or to a doctor. Examples of conditions that may require paramedical attention include heart attacks, asthma attacks and even some childbirths that develop more quickly than expected.
Accidental or deliberate injuries are another type of emergencies that paramedics typically respond to. These include injuries such as those sustained in car crashes, falls and near-drownings. Deliberate injuries that may need paramedical attention include gunshot wounds, stabbings and beatings. As the paramedics may need to work in less than ideal conditions, such as dealing with an injured patient stuck in a car, they also typically have training on the best techniques to handle these situations.
Ambulances and helicopters are common means of transportation for paramedics, and the nature of the job means that the emergency workers tend to spend a lot of the day in their transport. To have a career in paramedicine, a person typically needs a bachelor's degree in the field of paramedicine, but not the qualifications of a doctor. In college, the paramedics study biology, chemistry and emergency medical techniques such as artificial respiration, administration of medication and use of a defibrillator to control abnormal heartbeats. Different countries can have varying levels of licensing for paramedics, depending on their training and experience.