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This page will contain "Frequently Asked Questions" that we feel may provide information you might need about daily operations, what we do, who we are and the services we provide. If you have a question you'd like to appear on this page you can use the "Contact Us" page or email your question to webmaster@ocems.net. We'll do our best to answer every question.

How many EMTs are on an OCEMS ambulance?

We have an advanced EMT and an EMT-Basic on every ambulance.

What is the difference between a First Responder, an EMT-Basic, an Advanced EMT and a Paramedic?

A First Responder receives 80 hours of training in basic life support skills. First Responders are normally affiliated with a local fire department and respond as the first "rung" in the pre-hospital care "ladder". Their "scope of practice" or in other words the type of care they can provide is as follows:

  • CPR
  • Automatic External Defibrillators
  • Basic Human Anatomy
  • Patient Assessment
  • Bandaging and Splinting
  • Oxygen Therapy
  • Medicolegal aspects of being a first responder

First Responders are not required to do clinical hours in an emergency department or on an ambulance.

An EMT-Basic (EMT-B) has received 140 hours of training in basic life support skills. EMT-Bs receive training in the following areas:

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology
  • Medicolegal aspects of being an EMT
  • Oxygen Therapy
  • C Spine Immobilization
  • Bandaging
  • Splinting
  • Patient Assessment
  • Environmental Emergencies
  • CPR
  • Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs)

EMT-Basic students are required to have 8 hours of clinical observation in an Emergency Department and 8 hours on an ambulance.

An Advanced EMT student must be an EMT-B before he/she can take advanced EMT training. EMT-Bs receive an additional 60 hours of training in the following areas:

  • IV Therapy
  • EKG Interpretation
  • Advanced patient assessment skills

Advanced EMT students are required to have 16 hours of clinical hours in an emergency department and 16 clinical hours on an ambulance.

A Paramedic student must also be at least an EMT-Basic prior to his/her acceptance into a Paramedic class. Paramedics receive an additional 1200 hours of classroom training. Here is a list showing the additional training Paramedics receive:

  • Advanced Anatomy and Physiology
  • Advanced Patient Assessment Skills
  • Advanced Pediatric Assessment Skills
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • Advanced EKG interpretation/ 12 lead EKG interpretation
  • Transcutaneous Pacing
  • Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support
  • Endotracheal/Nasotracheal intubation
  • Surgical Cricothyrotomy
  • Chest Decompression
  • Pharmacology I and II
  • Advanced IV Therapy
  • I/O placement

     Paramedic students also spend hundreds of hours in certain areas of the hospital and on ambulances learning to use the skills they are taught in the classroom.

How many levels of care can be provided outside the hospital?

The state of Indiana has three levels of "Pre-Hospital" care.

  • Basic - a Basic ambulance service staffs their ambulances with EMT-Basics. They can provide Basic life support but can do no invasive procedures. They are trained in the use of AEDs and non visualized airway devices.
  • Advanced - can provide a higher level of care than Basic. Can start IVs and interpret EKGs.
  • Paramedic - the highest level of pre-hospital available in Indiana. Paramedics are trained in many advanced life support procedures, can administer drugs and do many invasive procedures.

Why is it that I sometimes see two ambulances responding to the same call?

     Depending on the nature of the call when it is received in the Owen County 911 center, the OCSD dispatcher decides if the call can be handled by an advanced EMT team or if the on duty Paramedic needs to be sent to the call as well. At the same time, the dispatcher determines if First Responders from the local Fire Department should be sent. The paramedic is always sent on calls of a serious nature i.e.; Chest pain, difficulty breathing, possible heart attack, tractor rollovers, ATV accidents, hunting accidents, farm accidents, respiratory distress, diabetic problems, motor vehicles with serious injuries or entrapment, unconscious or unresponsive patients, pediatric patients, unknown illnesses, and any type of call that appears life threatening.  

     The paramedic responds in a separate vehicle. This explains why you may see two OCEMS vehicles at the scene of an emergency. Please keep in mind that the paramedic's vehicle cannot transport patients. This type of vehicle allows him/her to respond with Squad one or Squad two. the paramedic arrives and determines whether the patient needs advanced life support. If not, the paramedic can allow the advanced crew to transport the patient to the hospital. The paramedic can then be available for another run  If both squads are transporting, the paramedic can still respond in his/her vehicle and start caring for the patient while a Squad 3 crew is assembled.

     While at first glance, this type of "tiered" response system may, at first glance, appear wasteful, it actually works very effectively for rural counties such as Owen County. It allows us to provide the highest level of pre-hospital care while keeping the costs of providing that service affordable.  

Why not just put the Paramedic on an ambulance instead of using that extra vehicle?

     Please keep in mind that OCEMS normally only has one Paramedic on duty. By placing that Paramedic on an ambulance as part of the crew, that Paramedic must stay on that vehicle whether his/her advanced skills are needed. In other words if a patient is transported to a local hospital that doesn't require the services of a paramedic, the paramedic does not have the choice of remaining in county in case another, more serious call comes in. That is the reason we choose to place our paramedics in a separate vehicle.


Why is it better to call 911 then to just take someone to the hospital by private car?

     The single biggest reason to call 911 for an ambulance is that once we arrive on the scene, we start treating the patient immediately. That immediate treatment can make all the difference, especially to someone who may be having a heart attack or other life threatening event. We can treat someone having a heart attack with drugs and minimize the severity of their heart attack. If someone if having a stroke, we can start treating them as soon as we walk in your door.  That is why we are here, to bring the Emergency Department to you.


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