Currently South Africa has two paths of paramedic training which lead an individual to become a paramedic. A paramedic in South Africa performs much of the same role as one in many other countries, including the U.S. Though the definition of a paramedic in South Africa is more complex, the education and courses are the same; intense and extensive, but extremely rewarding.
In South Africa a Paramedic is an individual who has completed the paramedic training program and examinations in Advanced Life Support (ALS) procedures. They are registered with a health professional board in their country and this allows them to practice the ALS procedures within the boundaries the board sets forth. This is called the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
Once course work and instructional classes are completed, the Paramedic term is also referred to as “Advanced Life Support Provider”.
Courses and Certification
It is recommended to first start your EMS studies by taking an approved OHSA and SETA first aid course.
By completing these EMS courses (up to level 3) for an introduction to Emergency Medicine you can start as a volunteer in the Emergency Medical Services, which is highly recommended for training in South Africa, as well as other countries.
As mentioned, there are two paths an individual can take for schooling in order to become a paramedic in South Africa (not in any particular preference order):
1. The CCA Certificate Course: To be accepted in this ALS course an individual must first qualify in two other short courses. The first is the Basic Ambulance Assistant (3 week) course which will qualify that person as an Emergency Care Practitioner – Basic. The second, after at least 6 months of practical training, is the Ambulance Emergency Assistant Course (which will qualify the student as an Emergency Care Practitioner – Intermediate). This is a 2 month course.
In approximately 1-2 years of practical work as an ECP-Intermediate, a student can then apply to do the Critical Care Assistant course (qualifying them as an Emergency Care Practitioner – Advanced). This final course of paramedic training is 9 months long.
Additional Courses, Schools and Programs
Once the student has successfully completed the 9 month CCA course, they will register with the HPCSA, which allows them the title of Paramedic.
2. The Tertiary Course is another path for paramedic schooling. It is a 3 year National Diploma or a 4 year Degree Course in Emergency Care. This course is offered by the Natal Technikon or the University of Johannesburg. Once completed, the student can then register with the HPCSA as an Emergency Medical Care Practitioner (Paramedic).
Emergency care courses are available at a number of private emergency medical services, as well as government ambulance training colleges. These include, but are not limited to:
a. Resuscitation Council of Southern Africa. You will find courses in Basic Ambulance Course (Basic Life Support Level, about 4 weeks), Ambulance Emergency Assistant (Intermediate Life Support Level, about 2 months), and Critical Care Assistant (Advanced Life Support Level, about 9 months).
b. Lebone College of Emergency Care. This course is under the Gauteng Department of Health.
c. University of Johannesburg and the Durban University of Technology. Both offer 4 year degrees, with the option of a Masters Degree.
d. Action Training Academy. Established in 2001 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the Action Training Academy has full courses for Basic Ambulance Assistant training and Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers. The Action Training Academy now operates as a national training operation, with branches in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. The Academy answers a request for those interested in paramedic training, as well as other emergency services programs.
The Action Training Academy Action Training Academy features course training in emergency services including emergency evacuation procedures, firefighting, and first aid training, and paramedic training. The courses start with First Aid and Basic Life Support, which is the entry level to entry level to paramedic training.
For a complete article on this paramedic course, see Paramedic Training Action Training Academy.