EMT Training

How Long is EMT Training?


How long is EMT training?


It depends, it could take from a few weeks to several months or years. EMT training hours vary depending on the course schedule, your availability, and level of certification. There are several levels of EMT namely EMT Basic, EMT Intermediate or Advanced EMT, and Paramedic. Different states call them different names but they’re basically the same. Some states also have a First Responder level as the most basic level instead of EMT Basic.

Required Training Hours

Each level has a required minimum hours of classroom lectures and practical or hands on training. The higher the level of EMT certification, the longer the training takes.

First Responder takes the least amount of time training with around 40 hours of training. EMT Basic requires at least 120 hours of training, EMT Intermediate needs 350 hours of training, and Paramedic takes more than a 1,000 hours or 6 months to 2 years of training to complete.

Most EMT courses and programs have a longer training periods to cover lots of material. Many EMT Basic training programs can have up to 140 hours, 160 hours, or 190+ hours of training. They also place extreme importance on being on time and avoiding absences.

Hours Breakdown

A big portion of the training time is spend on classroom lectures and another big portion on skills training and testing. The remaining time are directed toward clinical experience and hospital observations.

EMT Training Schedule

Another variable lies on the EMT course schedule and your availability. Some EMT Basic programs takes only a few weeks while others takes a whole semester to finish.

Most EMT B courses meet several times a week, two sessions on weekdays which almost always include a Saturday session. Class starts at 7 PM and ends at 10 PM and if there’s a Saturday class, it starts at 9 AM and ends at 5 PM. This schedule takes around three months or more to finish and the less session in a week there is the longer the EMT program takes.

EMT training programs called Boot Camps or Accelerated EMT Training that takes only several weeks or a month to complete have a more intense schedule. They meet from Monday to Friday from 9AM to 5PM and some have 12 hours a day schedule.

How long you want to spend on EMT training depends on whether the schedule matches your availability. Be sure to check different EMT training programs so you have more options. Note that this is only the core curriculum training and your certification could take some additional weeks to complete.

First Aid Courses

First aid courses is sometimes required before you can take an EMT training course and different areas have their own other specific requirements. Most of the time though, first aid is included in the course or there’s a separate first aid course just before the EMT training course starts. Even if you have no intention of working as an EMT in the EMS field, having first aid skills can make a difference to the well being of those around you like your colleagues and your family. To put it simply first aid save lives. Anyone can take first aid training, while some absolutely need it, any member of the public or workplace can acquire first aid skills.

According to Wikipedia:

First aid is the provision of initial care for an illness or injury. It is usually performed by non-expert, but trained personnel to a sick or injured person until definitive medical treatment can be accessed. Certain self-limiting illnesses or minor injuries may not require further medical care past the first aid intervention. It generally consists of a series of simple and in some cases, potentially life-saving techniques that an individual can be trained to perform with minimal equipment.

The most common form of first aid is CPR which everyone is familiar with. It involves mouth to mouth breathing combined with chest compression and commonly administered after a cardiac arrest. It is a very important skill for Emergency Medical Technicians and everyone should learn it as emergencies can happen anytime.

Advantages of First Aid

There are many benefits in applying first aid to anything that needs treatment. Fist aid generally prevents minor injuries or problems from escalating. Some injuries not treated at all might turn into something life threatening if left by itself and not treated with first aid. There are many people who suffer from heart attack everyday and they can be saved by putting their heart back into rhythm using a defibrillator. You can learn to use an external automated defibrillator in a defibrillator training course with the first aid course. It’s always better if you have some first aid skill than nothing at all.

First Aid Skills

There are first aid skills that are considered essential in giving first aid. Using the ABC of first aid which stands for Airway, Breathing, and Circulation must be carried out first before treating less serious injuries. After that, additional treatments can be given as required. Trained first aiders should be able to deal with grazes, cuts, or bone fracture. Some of the common first aid skill to handle the most common medical emergency situations include:

  • CPR: A heart attack can happen when one or more blood vessels that supply blood to the heart gets blocked. If a part of the heart is deprived of blood the victim suffers a cardiac arrest. The victim will require Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to provide oxygen through rescue breathing and maintain circulation through chest compressions.
  • Heimlich Maneuver: If a victim is choking and cannot cough or speak, there’s an airway obstruction that must be treated immediately using the Heimlich Maneuver.
  • Control Bleeding: Bleeding can be a life threatening situation and requires immediate attention. First aid should stop the bleeding, prevent shock, and avoid infection.
  • Treat Shock: Any type of injury can cause a shock and symptoms appears on the first hour of injury. Shock happens when there’s not enough blood circulating to the heart, lungs, and brain.
  • Treat Burns: Burns are painful and can result to infection and shock specially if the victim is very young or very old.
  • Treat Heat Stroke: This happens when the body’s heat regulator fails and is a serious life threatening emergency. The rise in body temperature to very high can cause brain damage and even death unless the body is cooled quickly.
  • Treat Hypothermia: This condition can become life threatening. It starts with shivering, dizziness, numbness, confusion, weakness, drowsiness, then loss of consciousness, and decreasing pulse and breathing rate.

There are many other skills you can learn from first aid courses like treating victims from poisons, insect and bites, allergy, fractures and sprains, seizures, strokes, and many more.

Types of First Aid Courses

There are quite a number of first aid courses out there. First aid courses for free are available through organizations like Red Cross and St. John Ambulance. There are also commercial providers and is most common in training first aid to employees and other health care providers. A good first aid course should teach the latest techniques and have a regularly updated course content to meet standards.

First Aid, CPR, and AED

This course provides a complete health and safety training for corporate employees, designated first responders in the workplace or schools like airline and security personnel, lifeguards, and individuals who want to learn First Aid, CPR and how to operate an AED. It teaches basic techniques of adult CPR and use of AED and barrier devices in CPR. It also teaches how to identify signs of emergencies like heart attack, stroke, and choking.

BLS for Healthcare Providers

Teaches first aid skills based on AHA guidelines intended for healthcare providers like nurses, physicians, paramedics, EMTs, medical students, residents or fellows, police officers, and other health professionals who provide health care to various patients and settings and anybody who wants to be prepared in an emergency. The course includes doing ventilation, use of automated external defibrillator (AED), and relief of foreign-body airway obstruction (FBAO).

Advanced Cardiac Life Support

This is for emergency healthcare providers who participate in the resuscitation of patients like emergency, intensive, and critical care personnel, and other personnel who needs to respond to a cardiovascular emergency and gives importance to patient survival using BLS and ACLS as well as effective communication between team members during resuscitation.

There are other first aid courses designed for specific settings like wilderness first aid for scouts and outdoor enthusiasts, sports first aid for injury prevention in sports, pet first aid for pet owners, pediatric first aid that meets first aid needs for parents and other who care for babies and children, and occupational first aid for maintaining first aid equipment and resources.

Learning First Aid

The basic first aid like applying bandage can be learned through experience but effective first aid that can save lives requires instruction and practical training. It becomes more important if the injury is fatal and carry a great risk to the patient. Attending first aid courses, getting a certification and re-certification to maintain skill and update on procedures and protocols is often necessary.

EMT Basic Practice Scenarios

EMT Basic practice scenarios can be a great help in preparing for the EMT-B certification. You are likely to be nervous when your EMT Basic certification is just next week or sooner. Having an idea of what might the exam be reduces your nervousness and anxiety and makes you more relaxed and confident. Practice scenarios will also help you improve and be much better prepared, have more control and familiarity by giving you a glimpse of what to expect in the actual examination.

What are EMT Basic Practice Scenarios

In simple terms, EMT Basic practice scenarios are hypothetical situations used in practical training designed for EMT Basic level. These practice scenarios will let you experiment and apply your EMT-B skills so will be prepared when you encounter the same or similar situation in the field. The most immediate use of EMT-B practice scenarios is in helping you pass the EMT Basic practical examination. The scenarios are also used in a way to increase your practical experience of the throughout the EMT training course. Some scenarios can be completed by one person like patient assessment, while in other scenarios the student will give instructions as team leader to coordinate other team members. The scenarios should become more challenging as you progress.

Important Things to Remember

There some important things to remember when you doing EMT-B practice scenarios. You should verbalize your actions to let those watching understand your assessment and treatment. Some of the things you should verbalize are safety of the scene, you have taken proper body substance isolation (BSI) precautions, decision to wait for ALS backup or transport, and those which cannot or unlikely to be seen like many assessment steps and looking for specific signs. By verbalizing you’ll be given proper credit and they also help organize your thoughts. You must do the scenarios as you would in the field including talking to the patient.

You will be given a time limit which may vary and instructors may change or make the scenarios as realistic as possible to better meet the student’s need and make it more challenging. You should assess and treat the patient according to instructions and vital signs should be taken. Scenarios roles may be assigned for bystanders/family, patient, lead provider, assistant provider, and others .

EMT Basic Skills to Practice

State certification requires you to be competent on a certain number of skills during certification and more during re-certification every two years. The practical evaluation focuses on the core skills required by EMT Basic. The practice scenarios for EMT Basic may include anything from:

Patient Assessment: Perform a thorough physical assessment for both Trauma and Medical patients in an organized and comprehensive way. It is also important to develop patient rapport and obtain a comprehensive history. Also remember your SAMPLE and OPQRST mnemonics.

Cardiac Arrest Managment / EAD: Rapidly do an initial assessment, apply CPR, quickly, safely, and effectively administer a defibrillator shock, prepare patient transport, consider ALS intercept.

Spinal Immobilization: Apply proper technique in using extrication collar for Supine Patient and Seated Patient, and securing the patient to a long board.

Breathing Emergencies: Adequately ventilate using a bag-valve-mask device for Bag-Valve-Mask Apneic Patient and adequately ventilate a patient using a pocket mask with an oxygen port and one-way valve for Mouth-to-Mask with Supplemental Oxygen.

Upper Airway Adjuncts and Suction: Measure the appropriate size and insert the nasopharyngeal airway and correctly suction an oropharynx.

Bleeding Control/Shock Management: Control of minor bleeding using direct pressure, elevation and pressure point and treat a patient exhibiting signs and symptoms of hypoperfusion

Musculoskeletal Injuries: Properly immobilize a closed, non-angulated long bone fracture of a Long Bone Injury, properly immobilize an isolated shoulder injury by applying a sling and swathe of a Joint Injury, and proper method of applying a Traction Splint.

Supplemental Oxygen Administration: Set up a free flow oxygen delivery system and deliver oxygen at a specified rate.

Soft Tissue Injury: Properly care for a patient with an amputated or avulsed body part.

Emergency Childbirth: Safely and effectively deliver a full term infant.

Where to Find Practice Scenarios

EMT Practice ScenariosYour textbook should have some EMT-B scenarios. There are also EMT books like EMS Scenarios and Street Scenarios for EMT and Paramedic. You can also visit the scenarios section of EMTLife Forum and the EMTB.com site. You can also check your local health facility that offer EMT training courses and meet up with friends or other students to share scenarios and ideas.

Although real life emergencies may differ from EMT Basic practice scenarios, it is necessary for EMTs to practice and be prepared when emergency comes. So practice more as it definitely helps when evaluation comes.

Free EMT Training

ambulance for EMT training

If you would like to become an EMT but you lack sufficient money to pay for tuition and enroll in an EMT training course, there are free EMT training offered by various organizations and schools which you can take advantage of. Although there are not many of them, there exist some which offer to help those economically disadvantaged and whose level of education is not enough for college admission and productive careers in the EMS field.

ambulance for EMT training

Free EMT training are EMT training that has no tuition fees and you don’t have to pay for the training. The course is funded by businesses, foundations, individuals, or by the local and federal government through federal grants. Others will include textbooks and other requirements while others will not. Most free EMT courses are for EMT Basic training only and will prepare you for EMT certification at that level. The class space and capacity is also limited and requirements have to be met. Some require that you have a resident in the state or city the course is offered.

To successfully complete the course you must commit the time and energy required. You need to study well and be fully prepared especially for the certification exams.

Who Offers Free EMT Training

Who does offer free EMT training or where can you get EMT training that cost nothing? A place to start with are:

Volunteer corps or EMT volunteer organizations that offers free EMT training so you can volunteer your time and services for the community. Even local fire departments or rescue squads offer free EMT training to attract volunteers and to increase their staff. You’ll have to serve as a volunteer EMT for one or two years in exchange for the EMT training. By offering free training for EMT volunteers benefits their squad and the community. Some also have paid internship after completion of the course.

Some non-profit organization also offer free EMT training for those that meet their requirements. Some are for women only who don’t have work or in a specific income level. Such organization like the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago or ICNC which is funded by a grant from the Eleanor Foundation is a great way get EMT training for free. They even have placement programs to help you find a job. Other non-profit organization work in conjunction with a college to provide free EMT training.

Local State or City University Branches that are fully funded by State Legislature and managed by State University like the Bronx Educational Opportunity Center or Bronx EOC also have free EMT training. You have to meet the basic requirements like literacy skills, income level, personal suitability and other course requirements.

Some companies offer free EMT training as beta testers of their online EMT education program.

The benefits of Free EMT Training

Some other benefits of free EMT training aside from being free is that you’ll be able to work with other EMTs in a pre-hospital setting. If you volunteer to get training, you can start having experience in the field immediately. Others also provide additional certification and depending on the provider even more.

Advanced Life Support

Advanced life support is the extension of basic life support using additional skills like advanced airway management, defibrillation, and intravenous access and drug therapy. The same reason why competency in Basic Life Support is a requirement in taking any advanced life support course. Healthcare professional like physicians, nurses, EMTs and paramedics trained in ALS have the knowledge and skills needed in advanced resuscitation situations of someone suffering a life threatening emergency.

ALS Components

The essential components of advanced life support includes advanced airway management, defibrillation, transcutaneous pacing, rhythm recognition, post-resuscitation care, and drug administration.


ALS requires tools and equipments similar to those found in emergency department and critical care unit like defibrillator, external pacemaker, EKG monitor, intravenous and other tools for drawing blood, prehospital drugs, portable oxygen system, and many more.

Advanced Life Support Algorithm

ALS continues where basic life support left off and assumes it is administered and is focused on monitoring the heart rhythm. When cardiac arrest is established, depending on the electrical activity of the heart and type of cardiac arrhythmia, defribillation is applied and medication is administered. The heart rhythm is assessed on a regular interval to determine the effect of the treatment.

During CPR, high quality CPR must be done, actions planned before interrupting, oxygen must be given, considering advanced airway, chest compressions when advanced airway is in place, vascular access, give adrenaline every 3-5 mins, and correcting reversible causes is done.

After the cardiac treatment, treating the cause, controlled oxygenation and ventilation, controlling the temperature is done on the individual.

Reversible Causes: H’s and T’s

The 4 H’s and 4 T’s are considered as potentially reversible causes of cardiac arrest. These are given to aid in remembering during CPR.

  • Hypoxia: low levels of oxygen in the blood
  • Hypovolaemia: low amount of blood circulating
  • Hypokalaemia / hyperkalaemia / metabolic: disturbances in levels of calcium, potassium, or magnesium in the blood
  • Hypothermia: below normal body temperature
  • Thrombosis – coronary or pulmonary: blocked blood vessels in heart or lungs
  • Tamponade – cardiac: blood or other fluid around the heart compressing it
  • Toxins: poisoning from chemicals or medication
  • Tension pneumothorax: oxygen shortage and low blood pressure from air leak in the lung

Advanced life support is included in the EMT training above the EMT Basic level and other skills can be acquired on continuing education courses. The guidelines can be found here(UK).

Basic Life Support

Basic life support or BLS are performed on patients in a life threatening situation until proper medical care can be given. BLS is usually done on the scene outside of the hospital by any BLS strained medical personnel like EMTs and Paramedics. Basic life support can be performed without using any medical equipment. Anyone can acquire BLS skills after taking a BLS training course or EMT Training. It is required for firefighters and police officers to have BLS certification which is also useful to other professions life teachers and security officers. BLS is often associated with EMT Basic although it can also be used by higher levels.

Basic life support skills are focused on maintaining airway, supporting breathing and circulation to provide enough blood to organs and deliver oxygen to cells. Airways skills like head tilt/chin lift and jaw thrust aid in keeping the airway open. Artificial respiration and giving emergency oxygen are breathing skills while bleeding control and CPR techniques are circulation skills.

Basic Life Support Sequence

Basic life support consists of the following, continuing to the next sequence when needed:

  1. Making sure the victim and everyone else are safe.
  2. Checking the victim for consciousness and asking loudly if he’s all right.
  3. Trying to find out what is wrong and shouting for help if needed.
  4. Keeping the airway open and checking for normal breathing.
  5. Starting CPR, chest compression, and rescue breaths.
  6. Continuing resuscitation until qualified help takes over.

Some situations like choking, drowning, and hypothermia, some points should be considered. Drowning victims that are unresponsive should be given CPR as soon as possible, finding the severity of choking, and checking the pulse and breathing for half a minute or more when the victim has hypothermia.

Paediatric Basic Life Support

There are some differences to adult and children basic life support, cardiorespiratory arrest is not common to children and origins of arrests requiring separate algorithm for health care professionals. Giving adult BLS to children should be given rather than doing nothing. It is also important to know the differences between infants and children.

The basic life support guidelines can be found here for UK and here for US.

How to Choose the Right EMT School for You

There are state approved EMT training programs available in many schools, colleges and universities. Choosing the right one for you can give you a some advantage during your training. Without proper training, you can’t get the certification and lessen your chances of becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

You should prepare a list of your top choices and should check them out. Visit the EMT school on the top of your list and get a feel of the campus, talk to instructors and students. It is also better if you can bring someone with you so you can have another opinion. A famous school doesn’t always mean good education. Don’t limit your options.

Gather Information

Research schools you know little or nothing about, some information about how they select students and the number they are willing to accept can prepare you better. Find out things like their acceptance rate, general ranking for comparison, tuition, and the number of students. EMT schools offer EMT training for only a specified number of times per year. Some of the best schools also cost too much, but they may also have scholarships, financial aid, and installment plans that can make your training more affordable. Be sure to follow deadlines whether for registration, application, etc.

Some of the top US schools that offer EMT courses include University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Drexel University, Drury University, Sanford-Brown Institute, Kaplan University, and more. You can include them to your choices if you have one near you.

Get the Training Content

While you’re at it, check how long the EMT training will last, some programs can be as short as a few weeks to several months. Get a feel of what you’re going to learn and the skills you will get after the course. Find out what kind of practical training they have. The best way to learn is through practice in simulated real life situations.

If possible, choose an EMT school close to where you live. It is important that you don’t get late to classes so you won’t miss anything.

Lives of people will be on your hands so choose your EMT school wisely.

How to Become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

Being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or a Paramedic can be very rewarding, after all what can be more great than saving people’s lives. Becoming an EMT can lead to a very fulfilling career in the emergency medical services field. You can also try or test the waters in the medical field by starting as an EMT, you can then become a nurse or doctor.

The work of an EMT can also be very challenging. Emergency medical care needs to be available 24 hours everyday which requires emergency medical technicians to be working at odd and irregular hours. They would be on call for long periods of time. EMT’s are required to be physically and emotionally capable to deal with extreme situations.

You Need EMT Training

To become an EMT, you need training and certification in your state. Requirements vary from state to state to enter training. Most require the applicant to be at least 18 years of age with a high school diploma or a GED. There are levels of EMT training starting with EMT Basic, EMT Intermediate, the EMT Paramedic. You can’t become an EMT Intermediate or EMT Paramedic until you are a certified EMT Basic. The training for EMT Basic takes more than a hundred hours of training focusing on emergency skills and patient assessment. You will also spend time in hospital emergency department and ambulance. You’ll get to learn how to use common medical equipments life stretchers and backboards.

You Need to Get Certified

After you have completed the state approved EMT Training you will be eligible to take the certification examination. The NREMT provides certification for 46 states and other states provide their own certification. You need to pass both a practical and a written examination to get certified as an EMT. You also need to be re-certified every two years and take continuing education and refresher courses.

After you’ve become a certified/licensed EMT Basic, you can then get advanced training as an EMT Intermediate then an EMT Paramedic.