A life as an EMT, or an emergency medical technician, is a highly commendable career to pursue as these are the people who are on the front lines in medical emergencies and are often the people credited with saving lives. Becoming a certified EMT is the best path to take as this will open many doors for you in terms of finding the best employment in the field. Getting certification as an EMT is easier than you may think, provided that you meet the educational and training prerequisites, which are also easier to adhere to than many people seem to think.
Steps To Becoming A Certified EMT
There are a number of steps that you can follow in your journey to becoming an EMT:
Visit the Emergency Medical Services website for your state and find out what the EMT certification procedures are. These differ from state to state, so do your research well. Most states require a combination of the following with some slight variations from state to state:
- Practical hands on training
- Background checks
- Physical exams
- Cognitive exams
- Standardized test administered by NREMT
Next, after you have ascertained what your state’s requirements are, you need to look for a place to complete your program. Locations for an EMT qualification include:
- Medical trade schools
- Community colleges
- Private schools (more expensive)
Most community colleges will have an EMT study option, so this is a good place to start. The course will be about a year long.
Note: If you’re not entirely sure that you want to be an EMT you could join a:
- Fire department
- Rescue squad
Usually you can join one of the above as a volunteer without any EMT training. On the job you will be given basic training and you will get e preliminary look into what you will do as an EMT. If you decide to pursue the qualification, there is no reason to stop volunteering as all the experience you can get will be useful.
If you’re looking at online EMT schools, be very, very careful. You need to be sure that these schools, as with any other schools, are accredited by the state in which you want to practice as EMT. Also remember that not all the requirement for an EMT qualification can be fulfilled online. For example you cannot complete the hands-on practice training in an online setting.
Complete the coursework and then get your 100 to 200 hours of hands-on experience. Once you have done all of this register to take the required examination (this will also include mandatory physical exams). When you’ve done this, you will be a certified EMT.
You will be required to re-certify yourself as an EMT once every four years. Again the rules here depend on the state in which you live, so find out more from your states EMS website.
After that you have the option to continue your education and even work your way up to being a paramedic, which comes with many advantages of its own.
Types Of EMTs
What Is An EMT?
An EMT is an Emergency Medical Technician and has special training that qualifies him or her to work in the field providing emergency care to patients in emergency medical situations. EMTs are the first respondents on scenes where people have been badly injured and require medical assistance. Such situations include:
- Car accidents
- Natural disasters
- Violent crimes
You will need a driver’s license as an EMT. This is because a big part of your job involves driving. You will need to drive safely and quickly to the place where the patient has been injured. You will then need to prepare the patient for transport and then securely and safely transport them to the nearest medical facility of it is a feasible options. If wounds are minor the patient can be treated on the scene.
There are a number of different levels of EMT certification. EMT-B is the lowest of these levels and this is where you are most likely to start out if you plan to pursue a career in emergency medical response. Consequently you will only be permitted to perform the most basic procedures when you respond to a scene. Your exact scope of practice will depend on the rules and regulations of your particular state. You may be allowed to:
- Administer oxygen and glucose
- Administer activated charcoal and epinephrine for allergic reactions
Whether or not you need to be supervised when performing tasks such as these will depend largely on the rules of your state’s Emergency Medical Services Department. It is helpful to know what you can and cannot do with an EMT-B before deciding to pursue that qualification or a more advanced one.
The next step up from being an EMT-B is being an EMT-I. As with most professions there are clear steps that you can take as you progress through your EMT career. The EMT-! Level is the second step in your progression. Among other things, an individual with an EMT-I qualification is able to:
- Administer additional medical attention that an EMT-B (where the B stands for “basic”) cannot
- Administer D50
- Administer Narcan
- Administer nitro tablets
- Intubate with an ET tube
- Start a lactated ringer
Again, the degree of supervision you need and the exact tasks that you are allowed to perform with an EMT-I qualification depend on the rules and codes of your particular state.
It is impossible to skip the EMT-I Level when you want to become an EMT-II. In order to become an EMT-II you must:
- Hold an EMT-I qualification
- Have had at least 10 contacts with patients while working as an EMT-I
Note: The exact number of patient contacts that you have to have before becoming an EMT-II depends on the state in which you work as, once again, there are differing rules form state to state.
You will have to undergo additional training to be an EMT-II. The length of this training will vary depending on your state and school. With this additional training come additional responsibilities that you can perform at a scene. You may be able to (among other things):
- Start intravenous (IV) lines
- Administer additional prescription medications as directed by a medical professional
The next level that you can pursue is, logically the EMT-III level. On top of all of the training you receive in other areas, you will need to undergo specialized training in cardiac care if you want to be an EMT-III. This is the main prerequisite to be certified at this level. You will need:
- Additional training in the use of morphine
- Additional training in the use of atrophine
- Additional training in the use of epinephrine
Requirements differ from state to state, but in order to become an EMT-III you will probably need to have completed:
- 50 hours of training
- 10 patient contacts
- 10 venous punctures as an EMT-II
The exact numbers may differ very slightly depending on where you are training to be an EMT-III.
The highest level of EMT is to become a full-blown paramedic and this is something that is well worth working towards. You will have an increased salary, although there is a major increase in the responsibility that you will have to carry that will come with this increase in your salary. Certification and responsibilities vary from state to state, but you will basically have an increased range of treatments and procedures that you are allowed to perform, and you will not be nearly as closely supervised as an EMT. For example you will be able to:
- Shock hearts
- Make new airways
- Administer over 30 different kinds of medications
- Ventilate patients
- Deliver babies
EMT Training Program
If you want to be an EMT and become certified as one legally you have to complete and EMT training program which can be offered at a variety of different place. Community colleges are the best places to begin your hunt for an EMT training program. There are several different levels of EMT qualifications (as mentioned above), and the length of your EMT training program can be anything from 6 months to two years to complete depending on which one of those levels you would like to aim for first. There are some prerequisite to completing an EMT training program:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must have completed (successfully) a check into your background as in most states, EMTs cannot have a criminal record
Before you can become a certified EMT you have to complete an EMT training program. In order to qualify for entrance into an EMT training program there are a number of educational prerequisites that you will have to meet. Firstly you will need to have a high school diploma. If you do not have a high school diploma, but you do have an equivalent thereof, such as a GED, you will still be able to enter an EMT training program. After that the prerequisites will differ from course to course. A common prerequisite that often arises is that the course conveners will require you to have a valid cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. In addition they may require you to complete a preliminary training course before you can begin proper training.
The coursework that you will do may include the following:
- Basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- First aid
- Patient assessment and stabilization
- Respiratory and trauma management
- Anatomy and physiology
- Basic life support
- Cardiac management
- Human biology
- Medical terminology
- Trauma injury treatment procedures
- Patient transport techniques
- Pediatric emergency care
- Hazardous material management
- Ambulance operations
A willingness to learn the above information, as well as an interest in it will stand you in good stead on your path t becoming a certified EMT. All of the above can be taught, so do not feel daunted by any of the topics mentioned above as you will not be expected to demonstrate knowledge of any of the curse work topics mentioned here before your training is complete.
In order to become certified as an EMT:
- You must complete a state-recognized training program
- You must pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification exam, OR
- You must pass a state licensing exam
Remember that there are different NREMT exams for each of the different EMT levels that have been discussed here. Make sure that you register and write the correct exam. The exams in question are aimed at testing two aspects of your skill, namely:
- Your cognitive understanding of the course theory
- Your ability to demonstrate your understanding in a practical and hands-on situation
You get three tires to pass the exam. If you fail on try three you will need to do 24 hours additional training before you can take it again. You must apply for re-certification once every four years.
The path to becoming an EMT is a little shorter than many other paths to enter the medical profession. As an EMT you will have a steady and stable job as there will always be medical emergencies that will require the knowledge and expertise of trained medical professionals. In addition you will be remunerated fairly well throughout your career, and you may have the option of pursuing more advanced careers and qualifications within the healthcare industry from the starting point of an EMT qualification. As you can see becoming a certified EMT is not nearly as difficult as one may think. The steps require hard work and motivation as well as dedication on your part, but provided you are serious about becoming certified in this line of work, you will have very little trouble achieving your aims.