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An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) is an emergency responder trained to provide emergency medical services to the critically ill and injured. In an advanced life support (ALS) service, the EMT plays a largely supportive role assisting paramedic personnel. In basic life support (BLS) services EMTs are solely responsible for the care and emergency treatment of their patients.
Once thought of as an "ambulance driver or attendant," the modern EMT performs many more duties than in the past, and responds to many types of emergency calls, including medical emergencies, hazardous materials exposure, childbirth, child abuse, fires, rescues, injuries, trauma and psychiatric crises. As National Fire Protection Association standards state that rescuers be medically certified, many EMTs are also part of Technical Rescue teams, such as Extrication, Rope Rescue, and Water Rescue. They may be part of an Emergency Medical Service (EMS), Fire, or independent rescue team.
EMTs are trained in practical emergency medicine and skills that can be deployed within a rapid time frame. Patient treatment guidelines are described in local protocols following both national guidelines and local medical policies. The goal of EMT intervention is to rapidly evaluate a patient's condition and to maintain a patient's airway, breathing and circulation by CPR and defibrillation. In addition, EMT intervention aims to control external bleeding, prevent shock, and prevent further injury or disability by immobilizing potential spinal or other bone fractures, while expediting the safe and timely transport of the patient to a hospital emergency department for definitive medical care.