Paramedics respond when people are in distress, such as when they are experiencing a crisis, so they must be able to respond quickly.

When people are experiencing distress, whether it be physical pain or emotional distress, they need compassion. When arriving at an emergency, a paramedic must be able to quickly assess the patient and make decisions on how to best care for them – often that means transporting patients to the hospital. The stressful parts of being a paramedic include shift work, sometimes long hours without a break and lifestyle impacts, such as missing family events.

Sometimes paramedics are also called into situations that involve death, abuse and extreme stress, and they must be able to handle those situations emotionally. Being a paramedic is very demanding, but it can also be a very rewarding career. Meeting Albertans in their worst moments and helping see them through the crisis they are experiencing is one of the most incredible things you can do. Paramedics are called upon to fulfill this role every day.

There are three designations that fall under the paramedic category:

  1. Emergency Medical Responder,
  2. Primary Care Paramedic, and
  3. Advanced Care Paramedic.

Emergency Medical Responders (EMR) provide emergency care for patients, often in rural and industrial areas. They can provide spinal motion restriction, CPR and assist with several medications. They usually train for six to 12 weeks.

Primary Care Paramedics (PCP) train for between six to 12 months. They can do everything an EMR can do as well as start IVs and perform ECGs. They typically work on ambulances, in fire departments or industrial areas.

Advanced Care Paramedics have a much broader scope of practice, and they can administer a wide range of medications, intubate, and even perform cardiac pacing. ACPs normally complete a 2-year program after working as a PCP for a while. They typically work on ambulances, in fire departments, on flights, or in hospitals.

Alberta practice is based on the 2011 National Occupational Competency Profiles (NOCP) for Paramedics.