Prior to the late 1960’s, a person calling an ambulance received very different care than today. Often funeral homes operated ambulance services, and the responders had little or no training in emergency procedures. The patient, therefore, was merely given a fast ride to the hospital.
In contrast to the ambulance drivers of previous years, the goal of today’s Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) is to bring the emergency department to you. It is recognized that the majority of prehospital emergency medical care will be provided by the EMT Basic.
The Emergency Medical Technician Basic course provides the first phase of training in prehospital medicine. It includes all skills necessary for the individual to provide emergency medical care at a Basic Life Support (BLS) level with an ambulance service or other specialized service. Specifically, after successful completion of the program, the student will be capable of performing the following skills:
- Recognize the nature and seriousness of the patient's condition or extent of injuries to assess requirements for emergency medical care;
- Administer appropriate emergency medical care based on assessment findings of the patient's condition;
- Lift, move, position and otherwise handle the patient to minimize discomfort and prevent further injury; and,
- Perform safely and effectively the expectations of the EMT job description.
The Avera McKennan EMT program exceeds the EMT-Basic National Standard Curriculum consisting of 140 hours of class time including lectures, practical skills laboratory, and hospital emergency department or ambulance service observation. Upon completion of the program, graduates are awarded a certificate of graduation and are eligible to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians - Basic Written and Practical Examination.
Most EMTs in South Dakota are volunteers for their local ambulance service, and receive little or no compensation for their work. Some paid services, however, do hire EMTs. EMTs may also find work in other businesses, such as hospitals, detoxification centers, and industrial health and safety offices.
Most people that choose Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as a career decide to continue on to paramedic school.