LP Research Resources January 22, 2018

EMT Refresher Courses


Due to regular changes in emergency response procedures and protocols, refresher courses are required to be taken by all EMTs and paramedics, regardless of their previous education. The courses are based on updated clinical knowledge, allowing the professional EMT to maintain their skills and training to the most current level.  In-depth relevant coursework and clinical and field expertise is mandatory for every level of EMTs and paramedics. Once training is completed, refresher courses or re-certification is usually required every two years in order to complete the continuing EMT education requirements and maintain certification, however, some areas of the nation and countries outside the U.S extend the recertification requirements to every three years.

What is the EMT Refresher Course?

Often referred to as the EMT-R (Emergency Medical Technician Refresher), the EMT-Refresher course is a review of the skills and knowledge covered in the EMT-Basic course. This refresher course fills the EMT and paramedic requirement for “continuing education.” In addition to examining primary curriculum, refresher courses are used as a means to further educations and skills by enlightening participants of changes in emergency care such as new EMS equipment, current research and analysis, new certification requirements, or issues of general concern to EMS providers.

How long does the Refresher Course take to complete?

The length of time to complete the refreshes course differs depending upon the EMS program. Most refresher courses consist of at least 24 hours of course work with the time of each section dispersed over 2-3 days. Nonetheless, as with paramedic training, each paramedic school or course program can vary. For instance, the EMT-Basic Refresher program at one California paramedic school is a four day course. The first three days provides students with 32 hours of continuing educations units, broken down into 8 units per day. The fourth day is designated for testing. Currently, this course is scheduled to take place approximately every three months.  Then there is the online course offered by the U.S.DOT (Department of Transportation), which consists of a 24 hour online refresher course.

In paramedic school programs the classes are often held on rotating time schedules to accommodate the shift work attached to emergency medical services work. Therefore re-certification classes can be available during day sessions or evening classes.

Where do I take the Refresher Course?

If you are an EMT or paramedic living within the United States you should contact your state Emergency Medical Office and/or your local EMS educational institution for the location of approved EMS education courses in your state.  Furthermore, by contacting your state EMS office it is helpful to register with your state’s EMS training officer. They carry a role in which they can help you monitor the progress of your continuing education, enter your continuing paramedic training and education documentation, and store an electronic verification of continuing EMS education and skills.

Most countries have an EMS affiliation in which you can be directed as to where to participate in the refresher courses required in your area to maintain certification. You can also take refresher courses from the paramedic school program or college of which you first completed your education.

Are Refresher courses offered online?

Yes, refresher courses for EMT re-certification can be taken online.

What are some specifics on the contents of the Refresher courses?

The refresher EMS course program is divided into six main components.

I. Preparatory
II. Airway
III. Patient Assessment
IV. Medical/Behavioral
V. Trauma
VI. Obstetrics, Infants and Children

Some courses include further models such as Operations.

What happens if my registry certification has expired?

Each state and country offering EMS licensing or certification has different requirements in place. All emergency medical personnel are required to complete continuing education, and this is usually done through a refresher course. If you let your national registry expire for a lengthy amount of time, you may be required to take a refresher course before applying to take the NREMT exam. In many areas the refresher course is required if certification has lapsed more than 6 months, and in that case the person must be trained and certified as a new applicant. Nevertheless, the immediate necessity of a refresher course can depend upon the expiration date of your certification, the length of the expiration of your certification, and/or the state or district requirements of where you work as an EMT or paramedic.