Many people are tempted to start a career as an Emergency Medical Technician, and if you are one of them then you have probably found it a little difficult to understand what is required of you to become an EMT. The decision is made more difficult, as the requirements vary from state to state, but there are a few things to keep in mind that can be listed in a general way.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of EMS, individuals working within emergency medical services serve approximately 25 to 30 million Americans each year, with EMTs often at the forefront when it comes to providing care.
EMTs usually serve as the first point of contact when someone has experienced trauma or issues brought about by illness or age, or any serious injuries. EMTs are responsible for transporting individuals to hospitals for more in-depth services and providing life-saving care.
During the course of a standard day, EMTs may provide CPR, wrap wounds, administer oxygen, stabilize head/neck injuries or broken bones, deal with issues related to shock and drive the ambulance. EMTs must have mutual understanding about how to deal with patients in a tough situation. It must feel prepared and confident enough to walk into any situation and help the patients.
In this article we will provide you with some very general rules and requirements that you should be aware of. If you do decide to take the step towards becoming an EMT then you should use the map below to take you to your state specific requirements and information about the training and application process.
There are some requirements and restrictions that all states have, and these include being at least 18 years of age, having a criminal background check, taking an approved EMT course and passing the relevant exams. The process for these differs from state to state. You should at least know that these are requirements prior to planning to become an EMT.
Steps to Becoming an EMT
To become an EMT, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED credential. EMTs must earn CPR certification before enrolling in a postsecondary emergency medical technology program. The following section takes interested learners through the requirements and illuminates each step of the path.
EMTs need a high school diploma or GED. If you don’t already possess a high school diploma, you need to either finish any outstanding course requirements or pass the General Education Development (GED) examination.
Approved EMT Course
It is very important that you only sign up for state approved training courses. This is relevant to both the EMT course and CPR course, if required by your state EMS Agency. Before you register and pay for an Emergency Medical Technician course it is recommended that you check with the EMS Agency in your state and verify that the training provider is indeed approved by the state.
Course length varies from state to state but generally the minimum accepted length is 120 hours which includes a clinical field placement. Usually training providers exceed this minimum hours quite a bit in order to provide as much information as possible.
Almost all states require that you pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exams in order to obtain an EMT license. The NREMT examination is divided into a practical exam and a written/cognitive exam. The written exam is provided through computer based testing, while the practical exam will require you to demonstrate procedures learnt during training.
Pass the Cognitive Examination
Every student hoping to work as an EMT must first pass the National Registry Emergency Medical Technician cognitive exam. This is a computer adaptive test of between 60 to 110 questions, the exam covers topics such as cardiology and resuscitation, EMS operations, medical care, airways, respiration and ventilation, obstetrics and gynecology and trauma.
In order to pass, examinees must meet what the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians defines as a “standard level of competency.”
Pass the Psychomotor exam
Administered by individual states’ emergency management services offices or local training institutions, this exam requires students to demonstrate their ability to successfully perform a number of emergency skills. Examples include managing cardiac arrests, immobilizing spines, conducting patient assessments, caring for long bone fractures, immobilizing dislocated joints, controlling bleeding, managing shock and providing mouth-to-mouth or other ventilation procedures.
Criminal Background Check
While the process for the criminal background check varies from state to state, what does remain the same is that certain criminal convictions will not allow you to become a licensed EMT. Some states publish the specific felony crimes they do not allow, while others suggest contacting the local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency for further details. In all states, however, applications with criminal convictions are reviewed on an individual basis to assess the details of the crime. If you have a criminal conviction it definitely makes sense to find out first if the crime would make licensing impossible.
What Does an EMT do?
EMTs work in a variety of capacities, including transporting patients to medical facilities, and providing immediate medical treatment for sick and injured people in emergency situations. Emergency medical technicians respond to 911 calls and medical emergencies. EMTs perform basic medical tasks, transport patients to hospitals, and act as first responders. As a medical professional, you must work well under pressure to make life-saving decisions in high-stress environments.
EMTs work closely with other medical professionals, including:
Your responsibilities as an EMT depend on your education and training. Some first responders only administer basic care, while EMTs with more training can perform more complex medical procedures in the field and on the way to the hospital.
- How long does it take to become an EMT?
Most candidates need six months to two years to complete the training courses and pass the NREMT exam.
- Is being an EMT dangerous?
EMTs and paramedics have one of the highest rates of on-the-job injury and illness of all occupations, according to the BLS. Following proper safety procedures can reduce this risk.
- What’s the fastest way to become an EMT?
To become an EMT quickly, candidates should complete CPR certification, take a six-month training course, and sit for the NREMT exam immediately after completing training.
- What are the EMT basic requirements?
While requirements to become an EMT vary by state, you typically must:
- Complete a postsecondary educational program for EMT training
- Get CPR certification
- Pass a cognitive and psychomotor exam
- Get licensed (in some states)