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Become Involved as an EMS Professional


Emergency Medical Services is a career field filled with excitement, rewards, public service and at times tasks that require routine work. Research indicates EMS providers love the work they do, are committed to patient care, enjoy the education, the “team work” part of work life and wish they were paid more for their services. Mental stability, physical fitness and remaining “calm,” during the storm of activities one faces as an EMT are important attributes of EMS professionals. Often used as an entry portal for other health care professions, EMS can be an enjoyable and rewarding life’s work.

Typically, persons interested in EMS must be 18 years of age, take and pass an EMT education course, and not have a criminal background. EMT courses are taught in a variety of settings throughout the United States. All US Army and Air Force “medics,” are EMTs. The location of courses can be found by contacting State EMS Offices, found on our website. The EMT course requires about a semester of education to complete. Some courses are taught in academies, some in Universities and Community Colleges while others are taught by services seeking to employ EMTs. Many EMTs, particularly in rural areas volunteer to be on the EMS service. Most volunteers are compensated in some fashion for EMS work. A majority of EMTs are paid ambulance personnel and work either for Fire Departments, with Ambulance services, or hospitals that deliver local EMS care.

Emergency Medical personnel have designations or titles based upon the amount of education and scope of care they provide to patients. The National EMS Scope of Practice Model has four levels of EMS care. Below is the designations followed by the recommended amount of education required to reach that level of care:

Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), 58 hours of education. An EMR provides front line EMS care, typically within a team but are not educated to take care of patients in the back of an ambulance. Most EMRs are on rapid response vehicles and help other EMS providers at a scene.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), 150 hours of education. An EMT can serve in the patient compartment of an ambulance. EMTs use medical equipment such as automatic defibrillators, deliver trauma care and are educated in a simple way over all injuries and diseases. EMTs form the backbone of EMS delivery in the United States. Most work in a team with more advanced providers.

Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), 150 additional hours of education. To be an AEMT requires a person to first be an EMT, then take the advanced education course. Some states combine EMT and AEMT education in 300 hour courses. AEMTs provide interventions to patients that if done improperly can cause harm. The AEMT level of care is new in the United States.

Paramedic, 1,200 hours of accredited education. Paramedics provide the most advanced care of all EMS professionals. To become a Paramedic a person must first be an EMT. Paramedic education is accredited by the Commission on Allied Health Education Accreditation. Paramedics work primarily in urban and suburban communities. About 95% of Paramedics are fully compensated employees.

EMS education courses can be located by contacting your State Office of EMS. There are approximately 20,000+ EMT instructors who offer over 5,000 courses per year. There are about 300+ accredited Paramedic education courses throughout the country.

Persons who wish to be EMTs or Paramedics should contact their local EMS education program to learn more about the profession, the job of an EMT and local employment opportunities.

After completion of EMS education, persons desiring to obtain a license to provide that care in their state, most often obtain National EMS Certification. National EMS Certification is delivered by the National Registry of EMTs (NREMT) in all 50 States. Currently 46 states, the District of Columbia and in the US Army and Air Force require successful completion of the National EMS Certification exam as part of their initial licensure process. Four states have their own licensure and certification process. The NREMT requires successful completion of EMS education, passing a performance examination (practical) and a computer based examination. National EMS Certification is useful when moving from state to state as 49 states recognize the certification for reciprocity. The primary purpose of National EMS Certification is to protect the public by assuring EMS providers can safely and effectively practice at the entry-level. No EMS provider can work with National EMS Certification alone; all must also possess a state license to work. Persons interested in EMS will learn more about the NREMT and the state licensure process as part of an EMS education program.

The National Association of EMTs (NAEMT) is the professional organization for EMS workers. The NAEMT is the advocacy agency for EMTs. They provide a variety of continuing educational courses, host a national conference, and represent EMTs and Paramedics on a variety of national EMS committees. The NREMT (The Nations EMS Certification®) is not the NAEMT (the EMS professions association). Many EMS professionals are members of the NAEMT.

EMS can be an exciting career field. Taking care of people in their greatest time of need, when critical illness or injury are present, can be very rewarding. In EMS we do accomplish routine work but one never knows when dispatched on an EMS call what to expect. If you like dynamics in the workplace, service to your fellow man, and are fit both mentally and physically you should consider a career in EMS.

Click Here to find information about your State EMS Office.


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