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How Do You Become a Paramedic?

Primary care paramedics (PCP) provide pre-hospital health care to people in emergency situations. They keep patients comfortable on the way to the hospital and can even save lives.

If you want a meaningful career where you get to help people every day, becoming a PCP is a good choice. Here’s how to get started in this career.

Diploma Programs

To become a PCP in Ontario, you’ll need to attend a recognized paramedic diploma program. In these programs, students learn both theoretical knowledge and hands-on skills. Theoretical knowledge includes anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and theories of patient care. Hands-on education gets you ready to perform day-to-day PCP tasks.

During these diploma programs, students learn how to assess the extent of patients’ injuries. They learn how to administer various types of pre-hospital care, like spinal immobilization, oxygen therapy, and intravenous treatment. They learn how to work with other first responders, like police, firefighters, or ambulance dispatchers to ensure patients get the best care. They learn how to communicate with patients and their family members.

PCP students also learn how to maintain ambulances, as well as all the equipment within the ambulances, including oxygen supply equipment and automated external defibrillators.

Provincial Certification Exam

After you complete your diploma program, you’ll need to pass the provincial certification exam. This exam is called the Advanced Emergency Medical Care Assistant (A-EMCA) exam. The Ontario government provides a study guide to help aspiring PCPs get ready for the exam.

Other Job Requirements for Paramedics

There are other prerequisites for becoming a PCP. Since you’ll be driving an ambulance, you need to have adequate driving experience. You need to have a driver’s licence for at least two years before you start work as a PCP. You should always follow the rules of the road, but it’s even more important when you’re thinking about becoming a PCP. In the year before you start working, you can’t receive four or more demerit points on your licence.

PCPs also need to be vaccinated against diseases like tetanus, measles, and Hepatitis B, unless they’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons. This protects you and your patients. Make sure you’re up to date on all your vaccinations before you start job hunting.

You’ll also have to meet some physical requirements to become a paramedic. On the job, you’ll need to lift patients who can’t walk on their own. You’ll also have to be able to push and pull heavy stretchers. If you’re planning to become a PCP, it’s a good idea to work on your strength and stamina.

Getting Work as a Paramedic

The last step towards becoming a PCP is getting your first job in the field. PCPs can find work with ambulance services, fire departments, or government agencies. They can also get hired by private sector companies that need PCPs on site, like mining companies or manufacturing firms.

To get hired, you’ll have to partake in more than just a traditional job interview. Aspiring PCPs may also have to perform written tests, trauma-care scenarios, lifting evaluations, or other assessments.

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