EMT - Basic Refresher Course Requirements

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) must obtain certification through a state-approved program. While some states have their own certifications, others require EMTs to achieve national certification. Colleges and universities offer the traditional refresher course or continuing education topical hours.

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Essential Information

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certifies emergency medical service (EMS) workers at the national level ( Many states require this organization to certify professionals at some or all of the EMT levels, including EMT-Basic. The NREMT has different EMT-Basic refresher course options available for meeting recertification requirements.

Although many states require EMT-Basics to obtain national certification, a few have their own certification requirements. The number of required continuing education hours may also vary, and state examinations likely need to be passed in order to remain certified.

Some common concepts in refresher courses are:

  • Patient assessment
  • Professional conduct
  • Proper lifting techniques
  • Artificial ventilation
  • Trauma care
  • Basic pharmacology

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List of Common Refresher Course Requirements for National Certification

EMT-Basic Refresher Course and Continuing Education Topical Hours

National EMT-Basic certification expires after two or three years, depending on the time of year the initial exam was taken, so professionals need to plan ahead to meet the refresher course requirement. The first option, a traditional refresher course, is a 24-hour option that meets national standards for Department of Transportation approval. Students review emergency and disaster management, life support, patient assessment and more. The course can be completed either onsite at a college campus or online with scheduled in-person training sessions.

As an alternative to a traditional refresher course, EMT-Basics have the option to complete 24 continuing education hours in specified topics, including obstetrics, infants and children, patient assessment, medical and behavior, preparatory, airway, and trauma. However, EMTs interested in this option should first check state requirements.

EMS Continuing Education Courses

On top of the 24-hour refresher course, EMT-Basics complete 48 additional hours of EMS continuing education. The NREMT provides strict guidelines as to how many hours of one specific topic may count toward recertification. Some available options include emergency driving, teaching CPR and dispatch training.

Exam Option

Instead of taking courses, students may choose the exam option. They have one chance to test out of the refresher course by passing a competency exam within six months of certificate expiration.

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