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Emergency Medical Technician Training Programs and Requirements

Sudden accidents and illnesses require emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics to administer urgent care to patients of all ages. Varying levels of EMT certification training programs prepare individuals to respond to situations like accidents, heart attacks, childbirths and slip-and-fall injuries, and to assess, treat and manage emergency patient care.

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EMT Training Requirements and Recommendations

Emergency medical technician training programs train EMTs to manage urgent care patients on the scene as well as in transport to hospitals or other medical facilities. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) offers five levels of national certification for emergency medical service providers. Three certificate training programs train individuals for designations as first responders, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate/85, EMT-Intermediate/99 or Paramedic. States may impose additional regulations or restrictions on EMTs.

Formal Education

Prospective emergency medical technicians may choose certificate training programs for EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and Paramedic. Basic EMT certificate programs offer foundational emergency care knowledge and skills while EMT-Intermediate certificate programs include more advanced emergency medical training. Paramedic certificate programs offer the highest level of training. Most EMT certificate training programs require a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) equivalency.

EMT-Basic Certificate

EMT-Basic certificates train First Responders or EMT-Basic (EMT-B) professionals. Students in an EMT-Basic certificate program learn how to manage trauma, respiratory and cardiac emergencies as well as assess and report patients' current status. Many programs blend traditional coursework with hands-on emergency experience in ambulatory or emergency care, including how to use stretchers, splints, backboards, suction devices and oxygen delivery systems. Coursework teaches students how to control bleeding, stabilize fractures, open airway obstructions and stabilize cardiac arrest victims. Many also teach students how to deliver babies.

EMT-Intermediate Certificate

Intermediate EMT certificate programs can follow national standard curriculum established either in 1985 or in 1999. These programs continue basic training with advanced emergency care knowledge and skills. Students complete comprehensive coursework about airway devices, intravenous fluids and medications, along with spending significant time in the field.

Students in an EMT-Intermediate/85 certificate program study patient assessment, ventilation management and intravenous therapy. Those enrolled in an EMT-Intermediate/99 program take similar coursework, with patient assessment broken down into trauma and medical background. Intermediate 99 students also study cardiac management, IV and medication management and emergency pediatric care.

EMT-Paramedic Certificate

Paramedic programs, often offered as an associate's degree program at community colleges and technical schools, provide the most comprehensive EMT training available. Students take courses in anatomy, physiology and human structure and function. They also learn extensive pre-hospital procedures, such as administering oral and intravenous medications, interpreting electrocardiograms (EKGs) and performing endotracheal intubations. This certificate program also requires extensive fieldwork in ambulatory or urgent care facilities and ensures students are proficient in using complex medical equipment.

Job Experience

All certificate programs require extensive fieldwork and on-the-job training. These clinical experiences prepare EMTs and paramedics for employment. Actual time in the field increases with the more advanced certification levels. All emergency medical professionals must adhere to NREMT's guideline requirements for field experiences to be certified and maintain licensure.

Licenses and Certifications

All EMTs and paramedics in the U.S. must obtain NREMT or state-mandated licensure to practice emergency medical care. Each level requires candidates to complete NREMT-approved EMT certification programs as well as pass written and competency-based examinations. Passage of the EMT-Paramedic exam bestows the official designation of Paramedic. Typically, every 2-3 years EMTs and paramedics are required to renew their license and adhere to continuing education requirements. Licensure may be restricted due to criminal history.

Additional Professional Development

Emergency medical professionals work long and often irregular hours. They must be agile and have good eyesight, dexterity and physical coordination. EMTs and paramedics must also be emotional stable and capable of dealing with very stressful situations. Additionally, they must be able to lift and transport heavy loads on a daily basis.

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