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Prospective Students

Prospective Students for the Emergency Medical Science Curriculum

What is a Paramedic?

Levels of Credentials

Entrance Requirements

Steps for Entering the EMS Program

Course Schedule

Clinical Requirements

Uniform Requirements

Background Checks


What is a Paramedic?

The term paramedic comes from para- (auxiliary) + medical, meaning "related to medicine in an auxiliary capacity," the military term paramedic, meaning a parachuting medical corpsman, came later.

Paramedics are highly trained medical professionals who function in various austere environments. They must be well versed in a variety of specialties. Paramedics must also be prepared to handle themselves in a situation that is presented. This includes rescue skills, knowledge of fire scene operations, hazardous materials response, vehicle extrication, and self-defense.

One benefit of being a paramedic is that you always are doing something different. No two emergency calls are exactly alike.

A paramedic is charged with providing emergency on-scene treatment, crisis intervention, life-saving stabilization and transport of ill or injured patients to definitive emergency medical and surgical treatment facilities, such as hospitals and trauma centers.

The use of the specific term paramedic varies by jurisdiction, and in some places is used to refer to any member of an ambulance crew. In countries such as Canada and South Africa, the term paramedic is used as the job title for all EMS personnel, who are then distinguished by the terms primary or basic (e.g. Primary Care Paramedic) intermediate, or advanced (e.g. Advanced Care Paramedic). This approach may be completely appropriate in such jurisdictions, where primary care staff receive more than double the classroom and clinical training of an EMT, and in fact more than those in some jurisdictions permitted by law to call themselves paramedics. In countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, the use of the word paramedic is restricted by law, and the person claiming the title must have passed a specific set of examinations and clinical placements, and hold a valid registration, certification, or license with a governing body. Even in countries where the law restricts the title, laypersons may incorrectly refer to all emergency medical personnel as 'paramedics', even if they officially hold a different qualification, such as emergency medical technician-basic.

Once a person is credentialed as a paramedic they are then able to train to gain other specialties. Examples of these are rescue teams, supporting law enforcement, wildland fire suppression, critical care, incident command, and many more. Many of these will test paramedics skills due to the complex setting they are placed into.

Most paramedics are employed by an emergency medical services (EMS) system. This can be a county ran system, a private ambulance system, or a regional system. Some paramedics are also firefighters and work for a fire department. In other areas of the country, paramedics are employed by law enforcement agencies.

Paramedics perform advanced procedures such as endotracheal intubation, surgical airways, chest needle decompression, medication administration, IV fluid resuscitation, etc. They learn to operate many types of advanced equipment such as cardiac monitors, 12-lead EKG machines, defibrillators, capnometers, and external pacemakers.


Levels of Credentials in North Carolina

There are four main levels of credentials for emergency responders in NC. The following list is the credentials in order of lowest to highest.

  • Emergency Medical Responder (EMR)
    Common level for volunteer firefighters and some law enforcement officers.

  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
    Your first semester at ABTECH will prepare you for this level. The common level of certification for firefighters, camp counselors, rescue workers, and the general public.

  • Advanced EMT (AEMT)
    Common level for beginning certification to work on an advanced life support ambulance. This level allows them to start IV's and give some medications. Your second semester will prepare you for this level.

  • Paramedic
    Highest level of emergency care outside of a hospital. Your last three semesters will focus on this level of advanced care.


Specific Entrance Requirements

The following list is requirements that must take place prior to your entrance into the EMS Program.

You should:

  1. Have graduated from high school and have a transcript, or GED scores are on file with the Admissions Office
  2. Be 18 years of age or older by the end of the first semester
  3. Possess a valid North Carolina driver's license
  4. Pass a physical exam by a physician
  5. Have proper immunization records


Steps for Entering the EMS Program

EMS is one of A-B Tech's Limited Programs. Refer to the Selective and Limited Programs webpage for the most up-to-date and detailed application criteria. Email with questions about the application process.

  1. Complete an application for admission into the College.
  2. Successfully complete placement in Math and English.
  3. Turn in a high school transcript or GED scores to the Admissions Office.
  4. Turn in any transcripts from previous colleges to the Admissions Office.
  5. Talk with a Pre-Limited/Pre-Selective Advisor about placement and applying to the program.
  6. You will be contacted by mail regarding an orientation session for the EMS Program.
  7. Be sure to attend the orientation session for the program. Your seat may be given to another student if you do not attend.
  8. Complete all paperwork that you receive in orientation as soon as possible.
  9. Pay your tuition. The College refund policy applies if a student drops the program after being denied clinical site privileges.
  10. Purchase all of your required textbooks, which you can look up at
  11. Obtain a parking decal and place it correctly on your vehicle. You can park in the white-lined spaces only.
  12. Be present on the first day of class at the indicated time. Parking is difficult, so plan to arrive at least 20–30 minutes prior to your class time.
  13. Have class supplies such as paper, pens, and pencils for taking notes.
  14. Turn in your health form that you received in the mail or at orientation.
  15. Prepare to purchase uniforms.


Clinical Requirements

Students who are entering the EMS Program with the aspiration of becoming a paramedic should understand that their training is not completely in the classroom. Clinical is a course that places students at various agencies to allow paramedic interns to gain exposure to real-life situations. Each student will complete the EMS Program with at least 500 hours of clinical time logged. Many students earn 1,000 or more clinical hours. We encourage students to actively pursue as much clinical time as possible.

Some examples of the places you may attend clinical:

  • Asheville VA Medical Center Operating Rooms
  • Buncombe County EMS
  • Various Buncombe County Fire Departments EMS (Barnardsville, Reems Creek, Riceville, Skyland)
  • Haywood County EMS
  • Henderson County EMS
  • Madison County EMS
  • Medical Emergency Transport Services
  • Mission Hospitals Emergency Departments
  • Medical Director Rotations in Emergency Departments
  • Mission Hospitals Neuro-Trauma Intensive Care Unit
  • Mission Hospitals Cardiac Cath Lab
  • Mission Hospitals Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)
  • Reuter Children's Outpatient Center
  • Mission Hospitals Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit
  • Mission Hospitals Labor and Delivery
  • Mission Hospitals Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • Mission Hospitals Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • Mission Hospitals Regional Transport Services
  • Grady EMS, Atlanta GA
  • McDowell County EMS
  • Yancey County EMS
  • NC Mountain State Fair

The times for clinical activities vary from early morning rotations to late evening rotations. Most of our clinical rotations will be on Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday. However, other days of the week are scheduled as the need arises. Clinical shifts are scheduled for at least nine hours. Tuesday and Thursday clinical shifts usually run from 1:00 pm to 10:20 pm. Friday clinical shifts usually run from 8:00 am to 5:20 pm.

Clinical begins in the second semester of the EMS Program. This semester is focused on orientation and Advanced EMT skills. 96 hours of clinical must be obtained in that semester.

The students become Paramedic Interns in their third semester here at A-B Tech. Clinical begins to focus on advanced level care. A total of 500 hours is required by North Carolina during the final three semesters. This equates to 167 hours minimum during each of the final three semesters.

Grady EMS in Atlanta, Georgia is an example of an overnight trip that actually lasts for five consecutive days. This occurs during the second fall semester of your EMS Program. Please be prepared for this trip.


Uniform Requirements

Students in the EMS are required to begin the purchase of uniforms during their first semester.

We ask that you purchase the pants, boots, belt, and t-shirts as soon as financially possible. This will be your recommended daily attire. The uniform shirt with patches and name bar will be purchased at a later date near the end of the first semester.


Background Checks

The EMS Department of A-B Tech does not handle this process. Clinical sites have the right to require students and interns to complete a criminal history background check. Their discretion determines if the student or intern is allowed to function at their facility or agency. A national criminal background check is required to be completed before you begin clinical rotations. This will be handled directly between the student and the clinical agency. The College refund policy applies if a student drops the program after being denied clinical site privileges.

The North Carolina Office of EMS will also require a background check before credentialing an individual. This may require a student to complete additional paperwork, explain their situation by telephone, or even be present at a disciplinary panel hearing in Raleigh, NC. A student will not be allowed to begin clinical rotations until they are cleared from the OEMS and are credentialed at a minimum of EMT.