Paramedic Physical Demands | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

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Physical Demands

In emergency medical situations, a paramedic takes the leadership role and assumes responsibility for applying specific knowledge and skills related to basic and advanced life support to patients. The paramedic provides advanced life support to patients under supervision of a physician and directs lower level EMTs to assist based on their levels of competency within their scope of practice.

In order to successfully perform the job of a paramedic, the following physical demands are required as defined by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and Classification of jobs.

Physical Demands:

Strength, Standing, Walking and Sitting

  • Walking and standing are major components of this job.
  • Sitting is necessary for transportation to and from the scene of emergency

Lifting, Carrying, Pushing, Pulling

  • The Paramedic is required to assist in lifting and carrying injured or sick persons to ambulance and from ambulance into hospital. 
  • May be required to engage in pushing and/or pulling to assist other EMS providers to extricate patient pinned beneath vehicle, pinned inside vehicle, in vehicles with electrical hazards.

Climbing, Balancing

  • Climbing and balancing may be required to gain access to site of emergency, i.e. stairs, hillsides, ladders, and in safely assisting in transporting patient.

Stooping, Kneeling, Crouching, Crawling

  • Patients are often found injured or sick in locations where assessment of patient is possible only through the paramedic's stooping, kneeling, crouching or crawling.

Reaching, Handling, Fingering, Feeling

  • Required for assessing pulse, assessing breathing, blocking nose and checking for ventilation, lifting chin, head or jaw for opening airway, following angle of ribs to determine correct position for hands after each ventilation, compressing sternum, and assisting in lifting of patient, administering medications through intravenous therapy or other means, and handling of advanced life support equipment, such as mirror airway devices. 
  • Extension of arms to use hands and fingers to assess vital signs, feeling and touching of patent's skin to assess body warmth, handling limited equipment and transporting of patient are important aspects of this position. 
  • Finger dexterity needed to insert needle, and prepare fluids/medication for administration to operate equipment.

Talking, Ordinary, Other Hearing, Ordinary conversation, Other

  • Responding to patients, physicians, and co-workers through hearing is necessary in transmitting patient information and following directions.  May be required to shout for help and additional assistance.
  • Verbally responding to dispatcher's message on phone or radio is necessary for quick, efficient service that can be vital to life in emergency situations.
  • Communication on scene is critical for interviewing patient and in some instances, significant others, and in relaying this information in most expedient manner. 
  • Sounds of vehicles may alert paramedic that additional help is on the way. 
  • Other sounds can alert the Paramedic that other persons may be hurt or injured, i.e. someone thrown behind a bush in a vehicle accident who cannot be seen and whose vehicle may be barely audible. 

Seeing, Acuity, Near, Far, Depth Perception Accommodation

  • Sight is used to drive ambulance to scene of injury or illness, visually inspect patient, read map, read small print on medication/prescription containers, read drug reference manuals, and administer treatment.

General Education

  • High school graduation or equivalency is required.

Vocational Preparation

  • College: none
  • Vocational Education Courses:  An additional 900-1200 hours of education beyond the 110 required for the Basic EMT
  • Apprenticeship: none
  • In-plant Training: none
  • On the job training: During course of training, the Paramedic in training status will spend varying amounts of time in supervised clinical work in hospital and field settings.
  • Performance eon other jobs: none required; however, trining in the military as a medic is seen as beneficial

Licenses, etc.

  • Certification as Emergency Medical Technician: Paramedic, ACLS and CPR. 
  • Must maintain annual certification through continuing education

Relation to other jobs and workers

  • Promotion in some locations, paramedics may become instructors, dispatchers or administrators.
  • Transfers: none
  • Supervision Received: Physician
  • Supervision: Some to lower level Basic EMTs

Machines, Tools, Equipment and Work Aids

  • Ambulance, radio/telephone/pager, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, extrication devices, esophageal airway obtruder, ventilation mask, spinal boards, intravenous therapy equipment: needles and fluids, anti-shock garments, wheelchairs, and stretchers, EKG machines, defibrillator, visual airway intubation and other complex equipment, and sometimes a computer for documentation.

Materials and Products

  • Broad range of medications including narcotics, disposable latex gloves, bandages, universal dressings such as gauze pads, tape, blankets, pillows and sheets, oxygen, drugs, and intravenous fluids.