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Jessica Neddersen

5 Qualities of a Successful EMT

EMTs play a vital role in both public safety and healthcare by caring for and transporting sick and injured people during emergencies.

If you’re looking to start an exciting and rewarding career that doesn’t require years of higher education, you might want to consider becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). EMTs play a vital role in both public safety and healthcare by caring for and transporting sick and injured people during emergencies. 

The field is also growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), EMT and paramedic jobs are expected to grow 6% and add 17,000 new positions from 2019-2029. This anticipated growth is based on age-related health emergencies and others such as car accidents, natural disasters and violence. This demand is expected in both metropolitan and rural areas. 

If you’re considering a career in the field, ask yourself if you’re willing to embrace the below qualities that make for a successful EMT.

1. Ability to remain calm in stressful situations

When the word “emergency” is in the title of a position, it’s clear that not everyone will be a good fit. To make quick and accurate decisions that could save lives, EMTs must be able to remain calm and level headed during emergencies. Getting wrapped up in the drama of a situation could cause the EMT to miss something important or make a mistake.

2. Flexible

If you are someone who likes having a lot of structure throughout your day, then being an EMT is perhaps not the best career for you. Emergencies can happen at any time, sometimes when you are the least prepared. You could also find yourself working in a challenging situation where the environment changes or is out of your control. While this can be frustrating, an EMT should be prepared to deal with any situation and adapt quickly while prioritizing patient care.

3. Good interpersonal skills

While taking care of patients is your top priority as an EMT, you also need to exhibit a calm, professional attitude when you interact with others. For example, you might have to talk to an injured person through an extremely scary situation or answer questions from family members or bystanders. Emergency scenes can be chaotic, and part of your job as an EMT is to help make sure others stay safe and that they have the information they need to know. Being personable while controlling your emotional response can help others understand what’s going on and ultimately deescalate the situation.

4. Team player 

During an emergency, EMTs are expected to maintain control while working closely with other first responders to help individuals and deescalate the situation. They usually respond to emergencies with at least one other EMT or emergency response professional, and they must all work together in order to save lives and reduce harm as quickly as possible. Additionally, EMTs have to communicate with an emergency dispatcher throughout the emergency and provide details on a patient’s status to doctors or nurses once they arrive at the hospital. 

5. Positive attitude

Being an EMT is stressful and challenging, but maintaining a positive attitude is important when making decisions that could save lives. Great EMTs embrace continuous learning without becoming easily discouraged, but this doesn’t mean they must always love their job or pretend that everything is 100% okay all of the time. They can have bad days, but the best EMTs deal with them appropriately to ensure they don’t hinder the quality of care that they administer to patients. This includes putting patients’ needs before their own, even if they are inconvenienced or troubled with other life distractions. 

Learn more about Herzing’s Paramedic/ EMT Training program here

Learn More About Our EMT Program


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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