LP Research Resources January 22, 2018

First Responder & EMT – What’s the Difference?

In the U.S., Canada and many other regions around the world, most police and firefighters are certified as First Responders. Employment in homeland security, wilderness rescue, and many other EMS services require a First Responder certification.

What Does a First Responder Do?

The First Responder (FR) will assess the situation, provide medical help, and determine if backup or further Emergency Medical Services are needed. In the case of an accident, this response could include removing the victim from a dangerous situation and/or a vehicle, taking vital signs, administering CPR, applying a neck brace, tourniquets or dressings, compresses, using an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and stabilizing the victim for transportation to a hospital or medical facility. First Responders also check for trauma, shock, administer IVs, oxygen, and check for hemorrhaging.

In addition, First Responder training consists of instruction in the physiological and anatomical changes of pregnancy. The general (common) medical and trauma situations are part of the instruction, along with basic training in labor, delivery and newborn care.

All of these emergency medical services are taught in a First Responder training course. After completion of the course an individual certified as a FR can then advance to the next level, that of EMT-Basic.

First Responder Prerequisites

Requirements for First Responder training include Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification. While you will train for CPR, CPR certification is not always a part of the First Responder training courses and may be required prior to a First responder certification course. Check with your training institution before applying for CPR certification to identify the course prerequisites and avoid repeating CPR course certification.

Age requirements vary state by state, Canada, the UK and other countries. Some First Responder training courses allow an individual as young as 15 years of age to apply.

First Responder Training and Certification

While First Responder training courses vary state to state, and even country to country, these courses can be found through any school or institution offering EMS courses. This would include community colleges, universities, Tech schools and hospitals. First Responder courses can also be found through local fire departments and Red Cross offices.

Typically the training involves 40 – 60 hours of EMS course work, which includes classroom instruction and field work. Successful completion of the courses results in a First Responder certification.

Online certification is also available, but field work will be required, and hands on training will always be preferred when it comes to employment.

Once First Responder courses are completed, National First Responder certification requires successful completion of both a cognitive and psychomotor exam. Once the exam is successfully passed, certification is awarded. The portion of the cognitive examination remains valid for 12 months and the psychomotor examination remains valid for 24 months.

The amount of emergency aid a First Responder can administer is limited, however the certification is invaluable to the patient needing immediate medical care. Furthermore, First Responder certification is again invaluable because it is the first step towards advanced EMT training, and the ability to provide advanced emergency medical services.

Additional Information

FEEMA and the National Training and Education Division (NTED) provides over 100 courses for our nation’s First Responders. The courses are constructed in a way to provide and build the skills EMS responders need to successfully perform in situations such as mass consequence events. Courses range from Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), terrorism, cybersecurity, and agro-terrorism, to citizen preparedness. The NTED provides catalogs of various courses with valuable information about NTED’s training courses and training providers, including course prerequisites and how to schedule and attend courses.