From the time you begin your training until you get hired for your first job, you'll hear plenty of opinions on what you need to possess in order to be the best EMT, including advice about the right books to read, the most comfortable shoes to wear, and the best stethescope to buy.
There are 3 things you should add to the list once you've got the basics covered:
A fluent tongue.
38 million Americans speak Spanish as their primary language. In other neighborhoods, there may be clusters of households where the families speak in African, Asian or European languages.
The diversity of languages in your own community may be significant or negligible, but you'll be a far better EMT when you take the time to learn the alternative languages spoken in your area.
It's often difficult for newcomers and non-English speakers to trust medical care workers, and even harder for them to understand verbal information or communicate their symptoms and concerns. Take some courses to study medical Spanish terms here, here, and here.
A good sense of direction.
Some of the calls you will answer as an EMT will be in hard-to-find or desolate locations. You'll often need to be able to give and take directions to dispatchers or other first responders over the radio or phone. It will help if you develop the ability to both give good directions and navigate from bad ones.
After you spend a few weeks riding in or driving an ambulance around a town or rural county, it will become very familiar to you. But there may be pockets of the local area that no map covers, or that are not marked with signs. GPS may not even help.
Study topography maps and satellite maps of the area where you'll be working. Having a bird's eye view will help you orient yourself to the ways roads and highways interact. Learn about local landmarks and shortcuts to help navigate your territory.
A humble heart.
You'll definitely face exciting events, challenging situations, and heartbreaking tragedies working as an EMT, but you'll also face a lot of boring calls that won't get the adrenaline rushing. Some days you may spend all day going on ho-hum calls to help elderly people back into bed or to do assessments on drunk people.
Be glad for those slow days, because they make up for the exhaustion and emotional toll taken by mass casualty accidents and other traumatic events. Understand that most days will be routine, and your services won't always be appreciated. Be humble enough to accept that and still give the best care you can give.
People are often at their very worst when they meet you out in the field. They may be agitated, terrified, or angry. They may be drunk, they may completely ruin your uniform, and they may yell at you or even try to assault you.
Don't take it personally, keep your wits about you, and stand firm as the calm rock in these situations to be the best EMT possible.
To learn more, contact a company that specializes in EMT certification.