How to Become a Paramedic

Paramedics rushing to help
People's lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of New Castle County paramedics. Incidents as varied as automobile crashes, heart attacks, drownings, childbirth, and gunshot wounds all require immediate medical attention. Paramedics bring the capabilities of a hospital emergency room directly to the scene of an emergency, and deliver advanced life support care to victims of sudden illness or injury.

General Tasks
In an emergency, paramedics are typically dispatched to the scene by a 9-1-1 center and often work with other emergency response personnel, including police, firefighters, and basic life support ambulance services. Paramedics are typically the highest trained medical personnel on the scene of an emergency.

In addition to carrying out the procedures described above, paramedics may administer drugs orally or intravenously, interpret electrocardiograms (ECGs), perform endotracheal intubations, and use monitors and other complex medical equipment. New Castle County paramedics will initiate these types of treatment even before contacting a hospital emergency room by radio. In many circumstances, the county paramedics will activate hospital heart teams or trauma teams before the patient arrives at the emergency department, saving valuable time.

Working Conditions
Paramedics work both indoors and outdoors in all types of weather. They are required to do considerable kneeling, bending, and heavy lifting. Many people find EMS work exciting and challenging and enjoy the opportunity to help others. New Castle County paramedics are employed by the county government and are full-time, career EMS personnel.

Paramedics, by nature of their public health mission, can be exposed to a variety of work conditions and emotionally taxing situations including persons trapped in vehicles and machinery, injuries due to violence, death and dying, people in pain, exposure to communicable and infectious disease, and injured or terminally ill children. Paramedics will likely be on the scene of virtually every major incident, whether to care for those that have been injured by the event, or to provide medical support to the fire service and law enforcement responders. The New Castle County Paramedics are an essential public safety resource that delivers critical health care at one of the most personal levels of interaction of any county agency.
 
The role of a paramedic requires a commitment to participate in delivery of an essential service to the community.  Paramedic services are provided on a 24-hour basis, which requires the paramedics to work rotating shifts, including weekends and holidays.
 
Training & Other Qualifications
Paramedic training is conducted in three phases: classroom instruction, in hospital clinical rotations, and a comprehensive field internship. A state-by-state list of accredited paramedic training programs is available to assist in finding a training program near you.

In Delaware, paramedics are certified by the state Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline. Individuals must be affiliated with an authorized advanced life support agency and must possess certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians at the paramedic level. Additional certification requirements include:
  • Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS) certification at the healthcare provider level
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
  • Prehospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) at the advanced level
Continuing Education Requirements
Paramedics are required to maintain their certifications. Emergency medicine is a dynamic field that frequently changes treatment procedures based on research and scientific evidence. New Castle County paramedics participate in ongoing continuing education activities that include lectures, case reviews, full-scale exercises, and clinical skills evaluations presented over a two-year cycle. Specific continuing education requirements are required to maintain National Registry Paramedic certification, which includes a re-registration requirement every two years.

Career Exploration
Anyone considering a career as a paramedic should carefully review the type of work and the potential situations they could encounter while performing their duties as a paramedic.

Ride-Along
Ride-along opportunities are available for individuals interested in observing New Castle County paramedics, provided the participant completes a Waiver of Liability Agreement and consents to a security check as a part of the approval process. Individuals under 18 years of age may be permitted to participate in a ride-along with parental consent. Contact the EMS Division general information number at 302-395-8184 for further information regarding the procedure for gaining authorization to ride with a New Castle County paramedic unit.

Delaware High School Students
Delaware high school students interested in pursuing a career as a paramedic may be eligible for enrollment in the Delaware Technical and Community College Paramedic Technology Program with tuition provided by the Delaware SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree) Scholarship. High school students seeking additional information regarding the eligibility requirements for the Delaware Technical and Community College Paramedic Technology Program or the SEED Scholarship should contact their school guidance counselor or the Delaware Technical and Community College Paramedic Technology Office.

If you are looking for a chance to make a difference in your community and to touch people's lives, a career as a New Castle County Paramedic may be the opportunity of a lifetime.