How to pursue a career as an EMS pro

Oct 25, 2023 | Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Working as part of an EMS team is a demanding but rewarding career.

Emergency medical personnel are often first on the scene when someone experiences an accident or a medical emergency. EMS workers are generally trained and certified as certified first responders, emergency medical technicians and paramedics. However, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians recognizes five different levels of emergency medical service worker. Though similar, the requirements governing each type of EMS worker vary.

All EMS workers provide life-saving services and help transport individuals to hospitals for additional treatment and care. Here is a deep look into the different EMS personnel and the training one might expect.

Certified first responder

A certified first responder is an integral member of an EMS team. These individuals provide basic medical care at the scene of emergencies, including basic first aid, stabilization of injuries, treating shock, and other tasks. First responders must be certified by the National Registry of Emergency Technicians, according to The American Red Cross offers first responder training courses. Certification requirements vary by state, and each state’s EMS office can provide specific details.

Emergency Medical Technician

According to the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care, EMTs complete a course that is a minimum of 170 hours. One does not need to have previous medical experience to become an EMT, but eligibility requirements may vary from school to school and state to state. For example, to be EMT eligible in California, a person must be 18 years of age. In Pennsylvania, one must be 16 years of age and the training course is 240 hours and includes both classroom and practical lab scenarios.

Like certified first responders, EMTs must pass the NREMT examination in order to obtain certification. EMTs can be EMT-B (basic) or one of two EMT-I (intermediate).


Paramedic students complete many more hours of training that may last between six and 12 months. Coursework builds on EMT education and blends additional medical training, including courses in anatomy, cardiology, medication, and physiology. Paramedics will take part in lectures, skills labs and a hospital internship, followed by an EMS field internship before passing the national certification exam.

Upon passing, these individuals will receive the highest certification of pre-hospital care in the United States.

Becoming a paramedic in Canada involves completion of a one- to three-year college, hospital-based or other recognized paramedical or emergency medical technology program, according to Job Bank. Licencing by a regulatory body is required in all provinces.

EMS workers provide life-saving medical care and are often first on a scene when a medical emergency takes place.

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