By Sarah Stevenson
With the field of emergency medical services expected to show faster-than-average employment growth over the next several years, job seekers with an interest in health care can find rewarding work as an emergency medical technician, or EMT. It isn't a career for the faint of heart, but if you have the ability to perform well in life-or-death situations and a desire to provide vital medical services, then all you need is a high school diploma, EMT online training or classroom-based training, and an EMT certification to enter the profession.
You can easily get your EMT certification through a local college or EMT online training, but what exactly does it mean to be an EMT?
What Will You Do as an EMT?
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics provide medical attention at the site of an emergency, but they perform other tasks as well, including the following:
- Administer treatment under a physician's direction if they have the appropriate level of training and certification
- Transport patients to the emergency department of a medical facility or assist with the transfer of patients between medical facilities
- Use communications and medical equipment found in ambulances or medical helicopters
- Work in teams with one EMT providing care and monitoring of a patient while the other drives the emergency vehicle
EMTs are found in various settings, including private or public ambulance services, hospitals, fire departments, or other emergency service providers.
There are different levels of certification within the EMT profession, each with distinct responsibilities. Certification can be earned through EMT online training or through classroom-based training. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) provides testing and certification at five levels:
- First Responder
- EMT-Intermediate, which is broken down further into two levels, Intermediate/85 and Intermediate/99
Individual states sometimes have their own certification programs with different titles, such as EMT-I and EMT-II.
EMT Online Training and Classroom Certification
If you hold a First Responder or EMT-Basic certification (sometimes referred to as EMT-I), you will be trained in assessing a patient's condition, managing emergency situations ranging from fractures to cardiac arrest to emergency childbirth, and using and maintaining standard emergency equipment. Prerequisites are graduation from an approved formal training program, as well as passing exams administered by the NREMT and/or state or local certifying agencies.
EMT-Intermediate (or EMT-II) certifications usually require additional hours of training, with the specific requirements varying from state to state. At the Intermediate level, you'll learn more advanced medical treatment skills, equipment usage, and some medication administration. The highest level of certification is EMT-Paramedic, which includes classroom training in anatomy, physiology, and medical treatment as well as practical field experience. Usually, EMTs and paramedics are also required to pursue continuing education, either through classroom or EMT online training courses, and periodic recertification.
Finding EMT Online Training in Your State
In order to locate an approved EMT online training program or classroom-based certification, a good place to start is your state's Emergency Medical Services department in order to find out what the requirements are for EMTs in your area. They may recommend specific programs that meet the appropriate state and national requirements.
Another useful resource is the Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services (CECBEMS). Organized by a number of national-level emergency services groups including the NAEMT, the CECBEMS promotes high-quality educational opportunities for people in emergency services professions. They maintain a state-by-state list of in-person programs as well as a list of EMT online training providers.
With an appropriate EMT certification in hand, you'll be on your way to a worthwhile career in a growing field, providing much-needed medical services in your community.
Sources: cecbems.org; healthoccupations.org