Andrew Magaña

Professor Ramos


25 June 2018

They Don’t Do It For The Money, but it Would Sure Help!

On your way home from work, you witness a car smash into the side of a building. You rush over and find someone severely injured and call 911.  This person isn’t looking too good, but you hear sirens in the distance. The fire department arrives and immediately starts CPR. The paramedic and EMT-B finally arrives and transports the patient to the nearest trauma center. The patient survives and is released from the hospital days later. It is fascinating how the emergency medical service system works. From the 911 call to pre-hospital care to definitive care, all parts are equally as important. Unfortunately, the paramedic, who had done everything in his power to manage the scene and utilize his skills in advanced life-support, earns significantly lower than the national average pay. The EMT, who had assisted the paramedic with every step, is only paid a dollar above minimum wage.  Paramedics and EMTs should be compensated better because of the physical and emotional stress they experience on the job.


Emergency Medical Technicians or EMT-Basics are individuals trained to perform basic life support (BLS) skills such as CPR , airway management, oxygen administration, and splinting and bandaging. They receive up to 200 hours of in classroom education and 48 hours of field training. The hourly rate for an EMT-Basic ranges from $9.16-$16.19 with an average EMT making $12.17(PayScale). Paramedics, the highest skilled prehospital care providers, provide advanced life support (ALS) for patients. According to the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care, paramedics are, “highly educated in topics such as anatomy and physiology, cardiology, medications, and medical procedures. They build on their EMT education and learn more skills such as administering medications, starting intravenous lines, providing advanced airway management for patients.”Paramedics receive from 1,200 to 1,800 hours of in classroom education (UCLA CPC). The paramedics hourly rate ranges from $9.91- $18.89 (PayScale).  Ambulance crews can be made up of two paramedics, two EMTs, or one of each. In the US, 80% of EMTs and paramedics are employed by private companies (Jacobs, et al. 4). Others are volunteers or employed by the city.

Paramedics and EMTs are exposed to many health risks that endanger their lives everyday. Pathogens, violent patients, and vehicle collisions are part of their normal routine. The University of California, Berkeley Labor Center found that mortality rate for EMS workers are slightly lower than police officers at 12.7 per 100,000 (Jacobs, et al 12). Considering how often police officers face danger, this shows the risks that EMS providers take everyday. Continuous exposure to death, hazardous materials, and disease not only takes a toll on the body but also on the mind. They have also found that 12-21% of  EMS providers will suffer from PTSD and 37% contemplate suicide. Most companies have Critical Incident Stress Management systems in place for debriefing after a traumatic event, however, the use of these systems may be discouraged by the culture of the workplace (Jacobs, et al 13). One of the four critical components to a successful EMS system is, the “health, safety and wellness of the EMS workforce” (Chapman, et al 7). These men and women put their lives on the line everyday so shouldn’t they be properly compensated for it?

The most important principle of patient care in the emergency medical services is quality. Higher quality care equals better patient outcomes. According to Measuring Happiness, those that are satisfied with their job tend to work more efficiently (Weimann). If you love what you do, you’ll be more inclined to pay close attention and make better judgments. Why should these people worry about bills or how low they are actually being paid when they have such a high intensity job? Would you want your rescue to be someone who is not performing to the best of their abilities? In EMS, the saying is, “Treat every patient as if they were your mom.”

The common argument against the increase in pay for EMS responders is that the education standards need to be raised for paramedics and EMTs. The argument supports the idea that high quality healthcare can not be provided at the level that they are trained too (Jacobs, et al. 15). According to the National Registry for Emergency Medical Technicians website, EMTs are required to have done 24 hours of continued education (CE) to recertify after two years. They also require paramedics to complete 72 hours of CE. This is mandatory because the emergency medical services is constantly evolving, requiring EMTs to always be up-to-date.

Our EMS system is heavily dependent on paramedics and EMTs to care for patients with quality and integrity.If these services are not paid what they are worth then they will not perform at the level we expect them to be at. Paramedics and EMTs face great danger everyday and suffer the consequences of it afterwards. Very few show up on the worst day of your life and are ready to help. Fortunately, at the end of the day, these brave men and women don’t do it for the money but do it because they want to have a positive effect on the world.


Work Cited

Chapman, Susan A, et al. “The Emergency Medical Services Workforce Agenda for the Future.” NHTSA, May 2011, p. 7.,

This document addresses problems within the EMS system a proposes plans to fix them. It also provides clear information on how to be successful in this field. This source is used to provide information on a success point in EMS. I assume this source is credible because it is written by a government agency.

“Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) – Basic Salary.” PayScale, PayScale, Inc., 2018,

The website gives information on the payscale of the EMT-Basic. IT also gives a large amount of information on the EMTs demographics. This website is used in my essay to give basic information on the EMT’s pay.

“EMTs and Paramedics.” Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor, 13 Apr.2018,

This article gives a large amount of information on the job such as what EMTs and paramedics are expected to do and their work environment. It also gives statistics such as the median pay, job outlooks and state data. I plan to use this article to support my problem and my solution. I trust the source because it is published by a government agency and is constantly being revised.

Hsieh, Arthur. “Why EMS Needs Higher Education.” EMS News in Focus, EMS1, 24 July 2014,

This article writes about a brief history on the evolution of the Emergency Medical Services.       It then goes on to speak about the benefits of increased education in the emergency medical services. The information gathered from this source may be used to support my resolution. I trust this sources reliability because the author is the director at an accredited public safety training center.

Jacobs, Ken, et al. “Emergency Medical Services in California: Wages, Working Conditions, and Industry Profile.” UC Berkeley Labor Center, UC Berkeley, 7 Feb. 2017,

This article writes about many problems in the emergency medical services such as high mortality rate and low pay. It also provides recommendations to improve the work environment. I’m using this information to introduce the problem in my essay and to support my resolution. This article is written by labor specialist from UC Berkeley so I assume that they know how to improve the EMS labor system.

Weimann, Joachim, et al. Measuring Happiness : The Economics of Well-Being. The MIT Press,   2015. EBSCOhost,

“What’s the Difference Between an EMT and a Paramedic?” What’s the Difference Between an EMT and a Paramedic? | UCLA CPC, UCLA Center for Prehospital Care,

This source gives information on the job descriptions of the EMT-Basic and paramedic. It also lists how to start a career in the field. i am using this source to explain what an EMT and paramedic is and to explain the education. I am assuming this source is credible because it comes from a highly accredited school.