Female EMT’s: Women In Emergency Medical Services

If you are a female EMT, or you work in the emergency medical services, then you may be wondering how many women there are in your field. On the other hand, you may be a woman and wondering which medical role will be right for you! 

Female EMT’s Women In Emergency Medical Services

Luckily, we have all of the facts and statistics to help you understand how many EMTs are female, and why this is the case. The Emergency Services keep our country safe and alive, and becoming a paramedic or EMT is an incredible feat, and a highly rewarding career.

So what exactly does this role entail, and how common is it for women to become EMTs? But, first and foremost, let’s take a look at the role of an EMT, and what this is. 

What Is An EMT?

An EMT is an Emergency Medical Technician. These are the people who are the first responders at the scene of a medical emergency or traumatic event. An EMT is responsible for responding to the emergency, offering fast treatment in a calm and responsible manner. 

An EMT can respond to an emergency call as a single responder, or as the support for a paramedic. In these cases, you may have an EMT and a paramedic as the double crew on an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance.

This is why they are often referred to as ambulance technicians. 

Emergency Medical Technicians are the ones to perform CPR, give oxygen and administer drugs or medication to those in dire need, by providing relief for allergic reactions, asthma attacks and cardiac arrests. 

In most cases, an EMT will be first on the scene, and will have to perform CPR, provide basic emergency care or do whatever they can to keep the patient alive before transporting them to the hospital for further treatment.

Not only this, but EMTs have to be able to communicate well with people, remaining calm in difficult and traumatic situations, and being able to comfort and inform family members or other members of the public at the scene. 

However, they are only qualified to a certain extent, and are not able to perform emergency surgeries, or offer certain types of medication. In addition, an EMT will not be able to provide treatments that break the skin, or via needles and injections as this takes further training.

They can however use needles in the case of diabetic patients or those who have extreme allergies and need an epipen. 

To become an EMT, you would need to undertake over 150 hours of extensive training, and pass an examination. Then, you will be able to practice as an EMT, but you may be required to do some hours or take further examinations depending on your qualifications and employment.

For example, across the USA, EMTs can have different skill sets, and additional qualifications if their job requires it. 

As an EMT, you would have the initial EMT Basic certification, but you can undertake further training to become EMT Intermediate, or study to become a Paramedic to further your career. 

The role of an EMT is very physically and emotionally demanding. You will see traumatic injuries or events, and you have to be able to remain calm, collected and be respectful at all times.

You may even have to deal with sensitive situations, and have the responsibility of talking to distraught family members, or deal with those who are drunk and disorderly. 

In addition to this, you have to be physically fit as it is an active role that requires fast work and thinking. You will also need to be able to lift people into the ambulance or help carry them down flights of stairs to get them to the nearest hospital.

When many people think about the role of an EMT, they often assume that not many women are in this line of work. This thinking could be because of the physical work and manual labor that it takes, but how many women actually become EMTs? 

Do Many Women Become EMTs?

Most studies suggest that the majority of US EMS workers are largely white and male, so do many women choose to become EMTs?

Well, statistics from the United States Department of Health and Human Services show that on average, 65% of Emergency Medical Technicians are male, whereas 35% are female. 

In a ten year assessment from 2008-2017:
Researchers found that women earned 28% of all EMT certifications in 2008, whereas they were earning 35% of all EMT certifications by 2017.

So, the number of women becoming EMTs may be steadily increasing, however we have to consider whether some gain the qualification, but then move onto other roles in their careers. 

Therefore, on average, we can estimate that around 30% of the EMT workforce is probably female, yet this number is slowly rising. So, why are there so few female EMTs?

Why Are There So Few Female EMTs?

We are starting to see some growth in the amount of women becoming EMTs and joining the emergency medical services, and it seems that we can expect this number of women to only grow as time goes on.

But there still are far fewer women in the profession than there are men. So why is this?

Now, we would like to preface this section by saying that women are incredibly hardworking, dedicated and just as capable of being EMTs as men are.

It all comes down to the individual, and some people are more cut out for the role than others are, irregardless of gender or sex. But there must be some reason women are not going into this profession as much as men.

This could be due to the stigma attached to the role. Many people naturally think of paramedic and EMT roles as male-dominated, which is not okay, but it can steer some women away who do not wish to work in a male-centric environment.

In addition, some women may be more attracted to nursing or midwifery roles as they may feel more suited to a nurturing environment, or one where there are naturally more women around them.

Also, in nursing roles, there is more of a caring aspect to the job, where you get to know patients and spend time nursing them back to health, whereas some people may not like the traumatic emergency scenes that they would have to attend as an EMT.

Only 12% of registered nurses are male, which may be why more men feel attracted to emergency medical roles, and women are more interested in nursing roles. 

The other thing is EMTs have very long shifts. They can also work night shifts, or change from day to night shifts which can be stressful, difficult and upsetting if you have young children or dependents.

In addition to this EMT roles are not the most highly paid, which means that childcare may be unaffordable, and therefore shift work is not suitable. 

Finally, there is a lot of manual labor involved. Whilst women can be just as strong as men in some cases, if you are a particularly small woman, you may struggle to pick up a large patient who needs to be carried to an ambulance.

As such, males often have larger body masses, which can help them carry and lift patients, but it does depend on the person. In a similar way, you may be wondering if more women go on to become paramedics.  

What Is A Paramedic?

A paramedic is also a first responder at the scene of an emergency, however, they are more highly trained and qualified than an EMT. As a result of this, paramedics will have to undergo between 1,200 and 1,800 hours of training in order to qualify. 

With greater training and more experience, paramedics are therefore able to administer more drugs, medication and provide more highly skilled medical care than EMTs.

In contrast to EMTs, paramedics can give injections,  provide IVs, resuscitate patients and provide emergency treatment to an advanced level. 

They would also then be responsible for caring for and supporting the patient whilst an EMT or another paramedic drives the emergency vehicle to the hospital. In most events, the paramedic would be the most qualified person and healthcare provider at the scene.

It is the paramedic that would be consulted and has the responsibility and command in an emergency, as they have the most training. 

To become a paramedic, you would have had to undertake EMT basic training first, and study and work as an EMT for about 2 years. Then, you can begin your paramedic course and training after that.

You would again, have to complete all of the training hours, multiple examinations and assessments before you are qualified and able to work as a paramedic.

Becoming a paramedic is therefore often a natural progression after becoming an EMT, however this takes a lot of hard work and dedication, along with so much more responsibility under pressure. 

Do Many Women Become Paramedics?

When looking at the same study from the EMT section, it is clear that only about 20% of paramedics in the field were women in 2008. By 2017, this statistic had only risen to about 23%.

To give a more accurate estimate, when you consider that some may not have continued after qualifying, you could say that around 20% of women are paramedics in the US. 

As around 80% of men are dominating the profession, there may need to be more of a push to attract more women into the profession for the sake of diversity. 

Why Are There So Few Paramedics?

It is highly likely that the reason there are so few female paramedics is the same as why there are few female EMTs. The job is largely overwhelmed with males in the profession, which is not often attractive for some women.

Many women prefer to work with lots of other women to create bonds, friendship and a good team environment. 

In addition, paramedics also have to work long hours, participate in shift work, constantly train and qualify in other treatments, which can be gruelling, regardless of gender.

The role of a paramedic also comes with a lot of responsibility, as they may be the highest qualified person at the scene of an accident. This means that you have to make some tough calls, which can be off-putting for many people.

Summary

To conclude, only around 30% of EMTs are female, and about 1 in 5 paramedics are female. However, women are just as capable of working in highly skilled and high pressure jobs as men are.

It is also important to note that registered nurses are usually just as educated as paramedics, and even require a degree in order to work as an RN, whereas some paramedics may not need a degree. 

As there is already a gender bias towards women in nursing, this could be why more men go for the role of EMT or Paramedic as it is generally seen as ‘stereotypically male’.