8 Tools and Equipment for EMTs and Paramedics
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are responsible for providing life-saving care for patients. Whenever patients are in a vulnerable situation, they trust the first-responders to do everything possible to help them survive or extend their lives.
Data released in the 2020 National EMS Assessment showed there were more than 42 million local emergency medical service (EMS) responses to 911 calls for medical emergencies and injuries. Of these, 70% were 911 responses to an emergency scene, while 9% corresponded to specialty care transport or interfacility transfer.
Given the nature of their job, paramedic and EMT training includes how to operate a wide variety of medical equipment properly. They undergo in-depth training to arm them with the skills that enable them to respond to medical emergencies.
The Tools of the Trade: Medical Equipment Every Paramedic Should Know
During any shift, responders can face many different kinds of calls. If you plan to pursue paramedic or EMT training, apart from developing the necessary attributes needed by an emergency responder, you also have to learn how to use the tools and equipment that become part of your daily routine.
Heart disease remains a public health crisis in the US. According to the latest numbers from the American Heart Association (AHA), the incidence of emergency medical services out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in adults is 347,322 annually. That means EMTs receive calls to respond to cardiac arrests on a daily basis, which further highlights the importance of knowing how to operate a defibrillator.
Defibrillators help revive someone having a heart attack or if their heart stops and there’s a disruption in the heart’s electrical activity. Defibrillators can also be used when the patient has rapid, irregular heartbeats or extremely rapid heartbeats. Cardiac rhythm problems can cause the heart to stop beating and pumping blood. When this happens, the vital organs are deprived of oxygen and stop functioning. That’s why it’s crucial to “restart” the heart as soon as possible.
Defibrillators are often used in conjunction with an electrocardiogram.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors the patient’s heart rhythms. When used accurately, it helps identify the treatment needed and can save lives. EMTs must recognize the circumstances in which an ECG is needed and know how to attach the sensors and read the results.
- Infusion Pumps
Patients often need medications to keep them stable. Infusion pumps are critical in ensuring they receive the medications in accurate dosages. This is particularly important when patients need IV fluids. Infusion pumps guide paramedics in the proper titration of the fluids, especially during transport.
- Suction/Suction Pumps
Most patients with secretions or fluids that block their airway benefit from a suction unit to help clear it. The paramedic should know how to properly connect the catheter to the suction unit.
- Spinal Board
One of the most essential tools that EMTs and paramedics have in their vehicles is the spinal board. This tool is often used to provide rigid and stable support for patients suspected to have spinal injuries. In some instances, these boards can also be used to provide support when providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and transporting patients over short distances.
- EMS Bag
EMTs and paramedics have a special bag that contains valuable life-saving medical devices or tools they need when responding to an emergency. It’s a small bag that paramedics can carry while responding to a call. Sometimes, these padded bags can also carry surgical tools, such as bandages, syringes, and dips. Knowing how to keep these bags stocked and organized is a critical skill that can save lives.
Every EMT or paramedic should know how to use a stethoscope. A stethoscope helps emergency responders assess whether the patient’s problem is related to the cardiac or respiratory system. High-quality stethoscopes can hear and identify heart tones and lung sounds with high accuracy.
Specialized EMTs and paramedics should also learn how to operate a ventilator. This medical equipment is critical to help provide mechanical respiration to patients who may be breathing inadequately or not at all. Emergency responders need to know how to adjust settings, including the depth and rate of ventilation based on the patient’s needs.
Keep in mind, paramedic and EMT training also means becoming skilled in the necessary tools and equipment it takes to fulfill the professional, and save lives. To learn more about being an EMT or paramedic. Explore our Programs.
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