Being A Paramedic

Many young South Africans wish to become paramedics, however many do not know what the requirements are, what the different training options are and how to access them. Most people also do not know that there are several different qualifications available and several different levels of care which paramedics operate at.

One of the main functions of paramedics is to provide Emergency Medical Care to patients in the pre-hospital setting. This means that the patient is not in a health facility and is essentially, where ever the patient is. This could be at the patient’s house or work place, in the street, or down an embankment. Paramedics respond to the patient and treat and stabilize the patient on scene before transporting the patient to a health facility in an ambulance.

Paramedics can provide more than just simple “first aid”. Procedures and interventions that can be provided by paramedics differ, according to their qualification (which is discussed below).
Paramedics also continue the medical management of patients in the ambulance while the patient is being transferred between hospitals.
Paramedics can also be trained to perform medical rescue, which includes using the “jaws of life” to rescue people from crushed cars and using complex rope rescue systems to rescue people in the mountains.

Being a paramedic is not a “job” but a calling, which requires you to be:

  • Confident
  • Outgoing
  • Physically fit and healthy
  • Caring

The demands placed on paramedics can be demanding and stressful, it is however a rewarding profession which is developing.

These are currently the different levels of care which paramedics in South African can perform:

Basic Life Support

Basic Life Support (short course)
These practitioners provide Basic Medical Care interventions to patients in Emergencies. This will include CPR, stopping of bleeding, helping women in labour and other non-invasive procedures

Intermediate Life Support

Intermediate Life Support (short course)
These practitioners provide Intermediate Medical Intervention including IV therapy (drips) Bronchodilators, Defibrillation (shock) & chest decompression etc.

Emergency care technician

Emergency care technician Two years of formal training

Advanced Life Support Paramedic

Advanced Life Support Paramedic
his category of staff are pre-hospital Advanced Life Support providers. This includes; Advanced Airway Management, IV Drug Therapy up schedule 7 drugs, Advanced midwifery , Advanced Resuscitation, Aviation Medicine, Marine Medicine