EMS Q&A: What’s the difference between an EMT and a Paramedic? How many paramedics are on duty?

Posted on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 3:00pm

Station 6 C-shift personnelMay 21-27, 2017 is National EMS Week! To help us celebrate, take a moment to learn about what we do, share this blog with your friends, and submit a question of your own!
 

The main differences between an EMT and a paramedic lie in the amount of training and the level of care they can provide. EMT certification requires 180 hours of training. Upon completion, EMTs can provide basic life support during medical emergencies and begin to stabilize a situation. They can also perform some advanced-level skills, such as defibrillation and administering Albuterol and Narcan.

Paramedics also bring advanced-level training and care right to your door. Following a nine-month training period and over 1300 hours of training, MFD paramedics become certified through a national registry and licensed by the State of Wisconsin. They can administer over 40 different medications and perform advanced procedures ranging from establishing IVs to performing needle decompression (to remove air from the chest wall) and cardioversion (which uses electricity to correct an abnormal heart rhythm).

The Madison Fire Department offers a tiered emergency medical service system. All of our personnel are, at a minimum, certified to the EMT level. This allows us to staff every engine or ladder truck with four EMTs who can provide basic medical care until an ambulance arrives (see: Why does a fire truck show up when I call for an ambulance?).

This team approach to emergency medical care allows us to provide you medical care quickly and get you to the hospital safely and efficiently.

There are 64 EMT-certified members riding the engines and ladders in the City of Madison every day, and sometimes you'll see paramedics filling in with an engine or ladder company. Additionally, there are eight ambulances on duty with two paramedics on board each ambulance, guaranteeing a minimum of 16 paramedics on duty at all times. There are approximately 75 paramedics activated within the department altogether.

Like our firefighter/EMTs, all firefighter/paramedics work 24-hour shifts (7:00 a.m.-7:00 a.m.) and are available to respond to overnight emergencies. The map below shows where each ambulance is housed across the City of Madison:

Ambulance locations on a map

What should you expect after calling for an ambulance? Check back tomorrow to find out!
Do you have a question about what we do? Email it to us at fire@cityofmadison.com!

Pictured above (L-R): FF/EMT Joshua Ramsey, FF/EMT Doug Johnson, AE/EMT Andrew Marcin, FF/EMT Brandon Douglas, FF/PM Paul Schecklman, Lt./PM Terry Ritter, FF/PM Brandon Jones