Becoming an EMT or paramedic is a dream career for many, but the requirements can be confusing and even misleading. The necessary education varies by certification level, course requirements, as well as specifics required by each school, state and other countries.
Here, in the articles of this site, you will find answers regarding paramedic training, paramedic schools, and EMT training courses. You will also be able to search EMT and paramedic schools and courses, to find the one that is right for you.
The first step
toward becoming a paramedic involves obtaining a basic EMT certification. Before you embark on formal instruction it’s wise to determine whether you really have an aptitude for this line of EMS work. You can do this without spending a penny on your education by volunteering at a local hospital, fire station, or health care facility. There you can get exposure to patients receiving medical care and you will be able to observe nurses and hospital personnel in action. Then you can better determine if a career in the emergency medical field is something you could or want to do.
Enroll in a Red Cross Course
An America RC Advanced First Aid Provider Course will give you some skills that are also used when taking EMS courses. This class will teach you field emergency techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), as well as assessment skills and triage strategies. These are the type of skills you will be called upon to use as a paramedic. By taking this class you can conclude if you have the necessary aptitude.
Once you’ve established that emergency medical field work appeals to you, it’s the perfect time to pursue EMT training certification. EMT training is available in all 50 states. The educational requirement to entering a program or course-work may vary state-t0-state, but the basic prerequisites are usually the same.
Entrance requirements include:
- High school diploma or GED
- 18 years of age
- Oral interview
- Drug test, including screening for tuberculosis and hepatitis B
- Pass a physical examination
- Background Check
- Current Immunization records
Once accepted into a school or program, there are four groups of medical technician training and three levels of certification, each with a degree of accreditation.
- First Responder: A First Responder has completed an approved course consisting of classroom work as well as 40 to 60 hours of hands-on fieldwork. A First Responder has been trained in several patient care responsibilities, including, but not limited to: airway maintenance, emergency oxygen administration, CPR, defibrillation AED, trauma assessment, splinting and bandaging, and emergency childbirth.
- EMT Basic: The next level of certification is basic EMT certification. This is usually the entry level, designed to provide the instruction needed in order to help you enter the workforce in a relatively short period of time. Basic EMT courses consist of approximately 200 additional hours of education and skills. In addition to the skills described above, Basic EMT qualifies you to assess patient needs and administer certain types of medications. Most community colleges offer EMT-Basic classes; they cost approximately $500-$900 and last about 3 to 6 months, or one semester.
- EMT-I/85 (lower level intermediate) and EMT-I/99 (higher level intermediate) are the next level of EMT training. This consists of approximately 250 hours of field work and provides teaching on patient care at the next level of assistance. Some of the skills acquired are needle-decompression of tension pneumothorax, intravenous cannulation, endotracheal intubation, nasogastric tubes, and the administering of certain medications.
EMS courses and programs will vary in calendar length. The fast-track basic training programs can be completed in as little as two to six weeks, depending upon the EMS course hours held in one day. Additional time would include the clinicals and the “on the job – in the field experience that is required. Average EMT Basic training usually consists of 110-120 hours of EMS classroom instruction covered over a period of 12 weeks to 6 months.
Once you have completed EMT training, and you are certified at that level,
you are on your way to a career as a Paramedic.
This is the highest level instruction, often referred to as EMT paramedic training. This certification/degree takes between 12 and 24 months to complete and involves approximately 1,000-1,500 hours of training. Advanced EMT paramedic training courses will take up to 2 years for completion by paramedics in an Associate Degree program. This paramedic school program covers, in more depth, anatomy and physiology, patient assessment survey and triage, airway management, oxygen therapy, treatment of shock, and bleeding control. Care for fractures, spinal injuries, cardiac arrest, and various other medical emergencies are taught in both the classroom and clinicals for hands-on paramedic instruction. In addition, the paramedic student will have an introduction to pharmacology. At this level you will develop skills and training which provide a paramedic a great amount of professional sovereignty in the field of medical emergency responders.
When advancing from EMT Basic to the level of paramedic, be sure to make note of your state’s requirements, especially if you have trained in one state or country and are looking to certify or continue your education in another. Training can and does vary state to state and country to country. Currently 46 states in the U.S. require passing the NREMT exam in order to be certified.
Think it Over
If you’re cool-headed, you thrive in high pressure situations, aren’t put off by blood or dreadful scenes, and have a natural proficiency for biology, anatomy and physiology, then a career as an Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic may be the perfect job track for you. More important, if you care about helping others and can stay focused in stressful situations, then you could be a perfect candidate for EMS courses. EMTs are the first responders who arrive on scene for medical emergencies, health care assistance and 911 calls. Often their EMS expertise can mean the difference between life and death.
To be successful as an EMT, you must be able to lift heavy objects, work indoors and outside, and be prepared to work more than 40 hours a week. Due to the 24 hour nature of the job, you may have to work irregular hours and shifts can be 10-24 hours. Nonetheless, the hours are often guaranteed, the position secure, and the job satisfaction is endless.