First responder training takes 40-60 hours to complete. It teaches participants patient assessment, prioritization, assistance and transfer techniques. First response students learn to provide treatment for a wide variety of ailments, including heart attacks, strokes, shock, poisoning and heat- and cold-related injuries. In order to become a certified first responder, individuals must successfully complete practical assessments and pass a final course evaluation. Online programs are also available.
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Certified Training Program
Aspiring first responders learn through demonstrations and hands-on labs. They gain the skills needed for handling head and back injuries, emergency births, lacerations and bone breaks. In recent years, training for first responders has also included an emphasis on responding to large-scale crises, introducing topics such as stress management, public safety and weapons of mass destruction. Some common coursework might include:
- Tactical medical
- First responder/ICS
- HAZMAT awareness
- Active threat response tactics
- Weapons of mass destruction
Popular Career Options
Law enforcement officials and firefighters are typically required to pursue first responder training programs. These programs may also be helpful for anyone who is likely to be the first on the scene of a medical emergency or who works far from medical assistance, including search and rescue volunteers, park rangers, lifeguards, teachers and security guards. Community service organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America, may also encourage their participants to enroll in such a course.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, police officers make a mean annual wage of $61,270 as of May 2015. In the same year, firefighters made a mean annual wage of $49,330. The job outlook for police officers is expected to grow 4% from 2014-2024, and the job outlook for firefighters is expected to grow 5%.
Upon completion of a first responder course, individuals earn a certification that is valid for two years. In order to maintain certification, first responders must take biennial refresher courses. Also, while first responder training does include CPR skill training, the program does not award CPR cards or certification. To earn official CPR certification, additional training must be sought by an organization such as the American Red Cross.
First responders may find it helpful to attend industry conferences, such as the International Disaster Management Conference sponsored by the Emergency Medicine Learning and Resource Center. These conferences last for several days and offer opportunities for networking and educational awareness. First responders have a number of resources available to them in order to stay up to date on emergency techniques. They can read online blogs or participate in virtual message boards, as well as search the web for relevant demonstration videos. Many colleges, universities and local organizations also host professional development classes and seminars for certified first responders.
Aspiring first responders can seek out training programs through colleges as well as medical associations and public service organizations. These programs verse students in various aspects of emergency care through demonstrative and hands-on learning, with graduates often entering careers in law enforcement and firefighting.