Becoming an EMT, or Emergency Medical Technician is not as easy as taking a course, passing a test and jumping into an ambulance. Training must be taken from a state-certified course instructor or school.
Some community colleges offer EMT training. There are private companies that provide the training as well. Each course must be certified by the state. The applicant should ask if the course is state-certified. Prices for the courses will vary; private companies tend to charge more than a community college would.
The first step is to take course in the classroom. Anatomy, physiology and other subjects will be covered. This will not be at the same level as a doctor or nurse; the EMT needs a basic understanding of the human body and how it works. Once the classroom course is finished, the applicant must undergo an internship in the field. An internship with different departments in a hospital might also be required, depending on the state’s requirements.
Ask EMT’s working in the field to see what school, course or internship is the most respected. In the EMS field, the school an applicant goes to is important. Knowing who the instructors are will tell a potential employer what the applicant does/does not know and what their skills may be. While the most respected course may prove expensive, it could lead to employment over another applicant from a “lesser” course.
During the internship phase, the student will be required to write up a number of “runs,” or emergency calls. Each must be written carefully, as medical documentation is specific and detailed. The applicant will be taught that a “run form” is a legal document that could potentially be used in a courtroom.
EMT’s or Paramedics will evaluate the applicant’s skills at patient evaluation, splinting, patient management and more. If an applicant is reluctant or refuses to take charge of the patient or use the skills learned in class, he or she could fail the course.
In a hospital setting, nurses will evaluate the applicant’s skills. If the EMT has to start IV’s as part of his or her training, the state could require a set number to be performed. The evaluating nurse will initial beside a box which will certify the applicant has performed the skill successfully. The applicant could also be required to provide a specific write up on the patient according to skills learned in class.
Once the internship is complete, the applicant’s practical skills will be tested. Splinting, medical/trauma evaluation, CPR and more will be assessed as separate skills. The applicant must pass all of the skill testing successfully to be allowed to take the state written exam.
The state written exam will be performed by the certifying agency representative. In some states, this is the State Health Department. Other states may have other agencies that manage EMT certification. The test must be passed with a certain percentage to gain certification.
With certification in hand, the EMT can apply for work under his or her level. EMS, or Emergency Medical Services systems that handle emergencies exclusively is the pinnacle of EMT work. Private ambulances that provide medical transportation such as hospital-to-nursing home, nursing-home-to-treatment facility and others will hire EMT’s. If openings are not available in “EMS,” the EMT can gain skill experience by working for private companies while continuing his or her education. This is the most often used course of action for EMT’s.
Since each state has different requirements for EMT training and what an EMT is/is not allowed to do, the applicant should check with schools that provide training. Community colleges will have brochures outlining the type of skills and materials the applicant will be taught.