First responders are one of the most important roles in our society. They’re the people who have to step in first to any emergency situation, the people who arrive to assist you when you call 911. The role of a first responder is high-pressure and very stressful. But it can also help contribute toward tremendous public good.

If this is a career you’re interested in, then it’s important that you be prepared for what the disciplines are going to demand of you.

The skills that tie them together

Before we take a look into each emergency discipline, it’s worth looking at the qualifications and skills that are common among them all. As you can imagine, although they all respond to quite distinct situations, there are many things these guys do that may be quite similar.

When it comes to education, there actually aren’t that many formal qualifications that are required. The exception may be in medical emergency care, where some institutes may prefer that employees have spent time at medical school. But even here, this is usually quite rare.

In general, a first responder really doesn’t need much academic experience beyond high school. Most of the things you need to know are taught in state-approved first responder courses that are unique to each discipline.

CPR training, though certainly most prevalent in medical emergencies, will be required in all first response disciplines. Some degree of physical fitness and safety training is also required.

You’ve also got to be able to handle a vehicle. After all, that’s what gets you to the scene so quickly! Even if you’re not driving, you’ll have to handle other elements like emergency vehicles lights.

1. Firefighting

Firefighters aren’t just there to tackle fires. Many people seem to see firefighters as people who can tackle miscellaneous emergencies that the others can’t deal with. They’re there to help with a variety of natural disasters, not just fires: earthquakes, floods, and tornadoes also see people calling them.

Firefighters also spend the bulk of their time doing various community service tasks, which is why you see them involved in education so much.

With this in mind, it comes clear that you need to know a lot more than emergency fire tackling and safety procedures if you’re going to be a first responder here.

Firefighters often need to be experts in ensuring immediate safety and assessing situations before other emergency services arrive. Physical training, as well as an EMT certificate, is a must.

2. Medical

People in emergency medical situations often need some form of treatment immediately, before they can reach the hospital. This can include the treatment require right there on the scene, as well as in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. As you can imagine, the role of a medical first responder is often an intense and demanding one.

Emergency medical training (the aforementioned “EMT”) is essential. But it’s worth looking at precisely what EMT consists of. Essentially, you have three ‘levels’ of EMT: basic, intermediate, and paramedic.

Different state will have different regulations when it comes to what medical first responders will need in order to begin their jobs. Basic training is limited to non-intrusive procedures, and you’ll generally need to be more advanced than this to make it as a medical first responder.

Intermediate is something else that varies from state to state. In general, it will see you take on injections and intubations. A paramedic will have more than two years of training, and can take on drug administration, heavy wound treatment, and defibrillations among other things.

3. Police

Police officers, along with firefighters, are usually the first on the scene when it comes to most sorts of emergencies. They need to be on the scene as soon as possible, even in cases where a crime hasn’t been reported, in order to assess the situation and see if a crime has been committed.

The role of a police officer is one you’re probably most familiar with: they need to uphold the law, maintain public order, and keep people safe. A first responder can deal with a huge variety of situations. Though the danger involved is often overstated, knowing the risks is still essential.

As you can imagine, a first responder in the police department may deal with a lot of situations where their personal safety is at risk. This is true for all first responders – the difference here is that you’ll often be dealing with actual people who pose a risk to you. Becoming a first responder for the police requires the least qualifications of the lot, but does require extensive training in a police academy.

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