How Fit Do You Really Need To Be To Be An EMT?

In the world of first responders, paramedics and EMTs are often overlooked. So much so that many people aren't entirely sure of the difference between the two or what it takes to be hired to either position.

Simply put, the difference between the two is that paramedics undergo longer periods of training that build on their EMT knowledge, according to UCLA's Center for Prehospital Care. Both positions are first responders that answer the call when someone has been in a car accident, when a natural disaster strikes, or when someone has a medical emergency in their home. It's a position that requires both physical and mental strength, though few people realize the extent of the qualifications.

In its list of requirements for an EMT position, Indeed lists both communication and compassion before the physical requirements of the job, highlighting the importance of both. Emergency situations are fraught with tension and those in need often rely on first responders for a sense of calm and reassurance. It's hard to overstate how important these traits are. But they have to be supported by a certain level of physical strength and capability so the EMT can handle each emergency scene they respond to.

Strength, endurance, flexibility, and stamina

Although Indeed lists compassion and communication before physical strength, the strength requirement does make their list. The site explains that EMTs may have to lift patients onto stretchers. And while EMTs often work in pairs, sometimes this may have to be done alone, depending on the situation. Miami Dade College adds that being able to lift up to 125 pounds is a good benchmark.

The college also adds that coordination and balance are important, as EMTs often have to carry patients over rough terrain, sometimes without the aid of a gurney. They also have to haul equipment to and from emergency scenes without tripping or otherwise injuring themselves on the job.

UniteK EMT outlines a slightly different set of skills that include being able to lift a minimum of 100 pounds and push a minimum of 50. They also state that EMTs have to have the endurance and stamina to repeatedly sit, stand, kneel, bend, and lift. They also stress that EMTS may have to work in small, cramped spaces or climb stairs with regularity, requiring further coordination and flexibility.

No first responder job is easy. But when it comes to being an EMT, physical strength and flexibility are both key attributes that are enhanced through endurance and stamina. It's a key combination for people delivering medical aid in high-stakes and high-stress situations.