Virginia EMS certification licenses are governed by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS). Virginia has five levels of EMS licensing, each with a 3 to 4 year certification that is renewable thru continuing education:
Emergency Medical Responder/First Responder (4 year certification)
Emergency Medical Technician (4 year certification)
EMT-Enhanced (3 year certification)
EMT-Intermediate (3 year certification)
Paramedic (3 year certification)
All training programs for the five EMS levels in the state must be approved by the EMS Regulatory Board. The Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) is responsible for planning and coordinating an effective and efficient statewide EMS system.
All levels of certification require a person to complete a Virginia EMS training program that is state accredited in order to be certified, Virginia EMS training alone is not sufficient. As with other states, Virginia and the OEMS require the individual who has completed EMT training to pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam. Virginia accepts NREMT certification obtained from another state; however, you may be required to take additional training.
Virginia, like every other state, has requirements that must be met before enrolling in or beginning a training program and obtaining certification. These requirements include, but are not limited to:
• High school diploma or GED
• 18 years of age (16 for the very basic certification course)
• Passing an oral interview
• Drug test, including screening for tuberculosis and hepatitis B
• Pass a physical examination
• Pass a background check
• Current Immunization records
• Possess reading, writing, and speaking (English) skills
• Hold current certification of an approved Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) course at the beginning date of the course
• Must not currently be under any disciplinary or enforcement action from another state or EMS office, other recognized state, or national healthcare provider licensing
• Have a clean and neat appearance
Training and Certification Requirements
- Emergency Medical Responder/First Responder
The Emergency Medical Responder/First Responder training program for the state of Virginia requires a minimum of 63 hours of courses designed to provide education in the area of emergency care for individuals who are apt to be the first medical personnel answering the scene of an accident, fire, or medical emergency. The emphasis of the EMT-FR course will prepare the trained individual to handle immediate life threatening situations, injuries, and other emergencies until advanced EMS personnel can arrive.
The state of Virginia finds this training very beneficial to anyone serving and/or working in the areas of: teachers, volunteer firefighters, law enforcement officers, school bus drivers, care givers, postal employees, and dangerous industries such as miners or factory workers.
- Emergency Medical Technician
The Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification program was created to train a person to perform independently in a medical emergency. This course provides the basic knowledge and skills necessary to provide Basic Life Support (BLS) care and passing the courses is required in order to progress to more advanced levels of EMS certification.
The course requires a minimum of 144 hours of coursework, classroom, and skills instruction, and 10 hours of Clinical/Field rotations; totaling 154 hours of training. Virginia EMT certification requires a successful completion of a standardized cognitive and psychomotor skills exam.
The Virginia Standard Curriculum for Emergency Medical Technician-Enhanced certification presents the minimum required information to be provided with courses that lead to a Virginia EMT-Enhanced certification eligibility. All skills and subjects included in the curriculum for EMT-Enhanced are covered in a minimum of 102 hours of instruction. During and after the coursework, there is a minimum of an additional 48 hours dedicated to clinical rotations in the Emergency Department and in the field.
The Intermediate program was created to certify technicians to advance to a mid-level of pre-hospital advanced life support care in Virginia. This program meets all the requirements of the Virginia EMS Education Standards for the Intermediate level.
The coursework of skills and subjects within the curriculum for Intermediate are covered in a minimum of 272 hours of instruction. A minimum of 68 of those hours are devoted to extensive clinical rotations in specialty units. A minimum of 10 patient contact calls during which the student performs as the Field Team Leader (FTL) on an ALS ambulance are a part of the 272 hours required. Clinical rotations of this type are not usually available for lower level of EMS personnel. These additional clinical rotations include time spent in OR/Recovery Units, Critical Care Units, Family Practice, Mental Health Clinics, Labor & Delivery Units, Pediatrics, ER units, and other such area of medical services. The Intermediate program is developed to instruct and train the EMS technician in the following elements of pre-hospital care: preparatory skills, airway management and ventilation, patient assessment, trauma, medical, and assessment based management.
In the state of Virginia, all initial EMT-Intermediate programs must meet and fulfill the testing guidelines established by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. Once successful course completion is obtained, and a successful certification at the NREMT, Virginia Intermediate 99 level will automatically lead to a Virginia Intermediate certification license.
The paramedic training program was created to certify technicians to advance to the highest level of pre-hospital advanced life support care available in Virginia. It meets all the requirements of the Virginia EMS Education Standards for the Paramedic level. This Paramedic program is created to educate the technician in any aspect of pre-hospital patient care. These areas include instruction in: pre-hospital environments, preparatory skills, patient assessment and management, trauma care, airway management and ventilation, neonatal care and obstetrical/gynecological conditions, pediatric patients, psychiatric and behavioral emergencies, special considerations, and assessment based management.
The Paramedic program builds on the coursework, skills, and subjects included in the Enhanced and Intermediate courses and include a minimum of 781 hours of instruction. 136 hours of these hours is dedicated to extensive and complex clinical rotations in specialty critical care units. Often, additional hours may be required in order to complete all of the required training competencies. These additional clinical rotations include time performing duties in OR/Recovery Units, Critical Care Units, Labor & Delivery Units, Pediatrics, ER units, Doctor Offices, Mental Health Clinics, Dialysis and/or Neurovascular Rehabilitation Clinics, and Extended Care Facilities.
Once successful paramedic course certification is completed at the NREMT – Paramedic (NREMT-P) level, the individual will automatically be advanced to a Virginia Paramedic certification license.
In addition to the five levels of EMS certification, Virginia has Registered Nurse to Paramedic Bridge Program. This program reviews the coursework, skills, and subjects contained in the Virginia EMS Education Standards paramedic level training. It has a minimum of 120 hours of didactic instruction and an additional 136 hours (minimum) dedicated to extensive and complex clinical rotations.
Re-certification First Responder requirements consist of 18 hours devoted to practical skills and patient assessment.
Re-certification EMT Basic requirements consist of 36 hours of courses such as patient assessment and medical emergencies.
Re-certification for all advanced levels (above FR and EMT-Basic) requires 48-72 hours of continuing education course work.
Reciprocity Licensing for the State of Virginia
National Registry NRP certified technicians holding NREMT-99 and Paramedic certified technicians trained outside of the state of Virginia will need to apply for Virginia certification before practicing EMS at this level. After the individual receives Virginia credentials, the Intermediate has the option to maintain National Registry Intermediate certification without affecting their Virginia certification; though, Virginia certification must be maintained in order to work as an EMS provider at this level.
The EMT Reciprocity rules and regulations for the state of Virginia are quite specific. For those transferring from out of state with the intent on working in Virginia as an EMT or Paramedic the VDH-OEMS has forms to begin the process of reciprocity. The office also has a Virginia Paramedic Self Study and Application document that can be downloaded to study, review, and complete for anyone who is pursuing Virginia accreditation and certification.
To repeat, Virginia accepts NREMT certification obtained from another state; however, you may be required to take additional training. In addition, the certification from another state must be CURRENT throughout all testing to be eligible to take the National Registry written exam.
Additional requirements for pursuing EMT training and EMT paramedic training exist, and most details of these requirements are fairly common state to state. Read the articles EMT Training and EMT Paramedic Training for additional information, details, and a list of these requirements.
Virginia Department of Health OEMS
Office of Emergency Medical Services
Virginia Department of Health
1041 Technology Park Drive
Glen Allen, VA 23059-4500
1-800-523-6019 (VA only)
804-888-9120 (training office phone)
804-888-9100 (Main Office)