39. Paramedics

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Some of the everyday heroes in the United States are the country's paramedics. These young men and women are usually the first people who respond to medical emergencies suffered by citizens. Paramedics must complete a very extensive physical training program that is designed to weed out those who cannot make the cut. A paramedic must be in fit condition, and be mentally strong to perform his or her duties in the face of danger. Many of these heroes must endure life-threatening situations when responding to emergencies. Paramedics are usually attached to a county, or city fire department, but there are also some private paramedic organizations.

In Southern California, there are two primary schools for paramedic training. They are UCLA's Daniel Freeman Paramedic program and the Paramedic Training Institute. Both of these schools provide candidates for the Los Angeles County and City Fire Departments. To become a paramedic for a county or city organization, candidates must also pass a psychological screening and a physical training program.

Some of the equipment paramedics carry is very specialized. They carry basic and advanced life support gear such as forcible entry tools so they can reach people in peril, saws to cut through obstacles, and other emergency equipment. Paramedics provide a valuable service to the communities they serve. They must be certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) techniques, and be trained to handle all situations.

Some paramedics are trained to respond to what is called Mass Casualty Incidents (MCI). These emergencies occur whenever there is a tragic event such as the September 11, 2001 attacks on the country, and other emergencies like earthquakes, mudslides, or floods. Paramedics can also be sent to emergency situations by citizens who call the 911 emergency phone number.

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