How to become a paramedic—here is what you need to know

When choosing a career in the Emergency Medical Services sector, what steps does one need to take?

The Newcastillian – Online News approached Willem Rossouw, the branch manager at ER24’s Newcastle base, to establish how one embarks on a journey in this life-saving vocation.

  1. Obtain the correct tertiary education
    As with all healthcare professions, one’s first step is to register at a tertiary institute. Rossouw highlights, “Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and WITS are two great institutes, although one can look at other universities, whom all follow the same guidelines in EMS.”
  2. The qualifications required and their various timeframes
    When looking at what qualifications to pursue while studying, he highlights three different courses to choose from. “The qualifications you can select are Emergency Care Assistant (ECA) which is a 12-month course, Emergency Care Technician (ECT) which is two years long and then there is the Emergency Care Practitioner (ECP) which is a four-year-long Bachelor’s Degree.”
    With 26 years in the EMS sector, Rossouw affirms what stood out for him during his studies was the practical. “The theory gives you extensive knowledge, but I found you are more involved with the practical, allowing you to learn your new skills in a hands-on situation.”
  3. The steps to take in securing employment after qualifying
    Once qualified, the next big step is securing employment. Rossouw points out; whether you go to a private or government entity, it is essential to register at the Healthcare Professionals Council prior to seeking employment. “Your university will usually help you with this. You also need to get a professional driving permit (PDP) licence, which you will get at the Traffic Department.” These two steps help secure employment.
  4. Sought after additional qualification to assist in securing employment and understanding what to look for in an employer
    One of the biggest challenges in securing employment is the high number of EMS companies, leaving the job market flooded. However, Rossouw adds that by obtaining an ECP, you can better your chances of securing a job. “ECP is a sought-after qualification. With it, you can move abroad and work in the EMS sector.” In terms of salary expectations, Rossouw says the private and government sectors are evenly matched, as EMS is a market-related industry. But he elucidates, “When looking for an EMS team to join, it is advisable to look for one that has backing from established medical facilities and hospitals, such as ER24 and Netcare. This is because smaller companies might not always be able to pay the same salaries as these would.”
  5. The reality of becoming a paramedic
    Ending off, Rossouw stresses an individual does not become a paramedic for the money. “You will never be rich. We believe paramedics are born and not made. If you do not have it in you, you will not make it emotionally or physically. You need to have a passion for this line of work,” he concludes.

With this in mind, will you be taking the leap into the medical industry?

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