More and more, firefighters need to be certified paramedics, which is the highest level of emergency medical training. Many local technical and community colleges, and some four year institutions, offer the coursework for paramedic certification.
What Are Paramedic Certification Programs for Firefighters?
Most fire departments require firefighters to hold at least EMT-Basic certification, although some departments may require paramedic certification. Firefighters need paramedic certification to provide emergency medical care to fire victims, which can include pre-hospital care, although specific duties vary by state. Joint firefighter/paramedic training programs are available to help aspiring firefighters earn this certification.
Paramedic training programs teach students how to perform the critical tasks associated with emergency medical response, such as:
- Ensuring equipment is functional
- Overseeing crowd control at the scene
- Coordinating with other first responders
- Assessing and managing a patient's injuries
- Maintaining accurate records of an incident
These programs are primarily available at the associate's level at technical and community colleges. In addition to preparing students to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, students might also be prepared to take state firefighter certification exams. Some programs require students to progress through all the levels of EMT certification.
Students may need to complete paramedic labs that help them develop patient management skills as well as clinical rotations in ambulances, hospital emergency rooms, and other related settings. At the end of their studies, students will be prepared for entry-level firefighter-paramedic jobs. Course topics offered in firefighter-paramedic programs include:
- Rescue theory
- Firefighter fitness
Students will need to undergo a criminal background check, since convicted felons are typically not eligible to participate in the program. A drug screening is required as well. Additionally, students may need to validate their immunizations and hold current CPR and EMT-Basic certifications.
Employment and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighters can expect a 5% growth in employment between 2014 and 2024 due to conversions of volunteer positions to paid positions as well as an influx of people to cities and suburbs. Firefighters with paramedic certification will have an edge over the competition. Per the BLS, the median salary for firefighters was $48,030 as of May 2016. EMT-Paramedics earned $32,670, annually.
Paramedic programs teach students the critical skills needed to respond to emergency calls and treat injured people. Paramedic certification is a common requirement for firefighters.