How to Become a Paramedic
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, asthma attacks, and gunshot wounds often require immediate medical intervention to save the victim's life. 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.
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, and the highest medical authority, on the scene of an emergency.
In addition to carrying out the procedures described above, New Castle County paramedics carry over 30 different drugs, and administer them orally, intravenously, or intraosseously. New Castle County paramedics also interpret electrocardiograms (ECGs), perform endotracheal intubations, and use cardiac monitors and other complex medical equipment on a daily basis. New Castle County paramedics will often initiate these types of critical, lifesaving treatments even before transporting the patient or contacting a hospital emergency room by radio. In many circumstances, the county paramedics will activate critical hospital heart teams or trauma teams before the patient arrives at the emergency department, saving valuable time.
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. An online search should easily assist you in finding a training program near your location.
New Castle County EMS has pioneered the Paramedic Academy type of instruction in the State of Delaware, hosting the first Paramedic Academy class in Delaware in 2014.
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 professional 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. Similarly, certification as a Delaware paramedic requires renewal every two years. One of the significant benefits enjoyed by New Castle County paramedics is that all of the required certifications and continuing education credits are scheduled and paid for by the EMS division.
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. It is a very demanding, but very rewarding field, on both personal and professional levels.
*Ride-alongs from the public have been suspended indefinitely due to COVID-19.*
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 as an observer 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.