What Should I Expect from an EMT Refresher Course?

Summer Banks
Summer Banks
Two EMTs helping a woman.
Two EMTs helping a woman.

In the United States, an EMT, or emergency medical technician, is an attendant trained to provide medical care in emergency situations. An EMT training course is often followed with a certification test. This initial certification can last up to three years, after which recertification is generally required. Typically, these professionals complete an EMT refresher course to extend credentials another two years. The United States is the only country that uses the term EMT.

There are several levels of EMT certification, including basic, intermediate, and paramedic. Basic EMT training must be completed before undertaking the intermediate or paramedic training. Intermediate EMT training offers two levels of difficulty, the I/85 and I/99. The latter requires more training time and additional medical procedures compared to I/85 training. A refresher course must be successfully completed for each level of certification.

Initial education and training for a basic-level EMT can take up to 162 hours. During this time, 120 hours are spent in the classroom learning both textbook and hands-on, or practical, topics. The remaining 42 hours are spent learning in the field, often in a hospital's emergency room and riding on an ambulance. EMTs in training are typically required to perform a set list of procedures while working in the emergency room or attending ambulance, in order to receive certification.

Once the training is complete, a new EMT may choose to take the National Registry of EMTs written exam. This exam qualifies a medical responder to work within the state where the training was completed as well as other states that acknowledge the National Registry. After two to three years, an EMT may be required to take an EMT refresher course in order to continue working.

An EMT refresher course must include at least 24 hours of classroom education. Topics commonly covered include airway clearing procedures, patient assessment, and trauma. Students usually also study obstetrics, infant care, and treatments for children during an EMT refresher course. An EMT may choose to retest for national certification. Retesting is required to maintain state and national credentials.

Refresher courses are generally offered by state and local emergency medical service agencies. The cost of such courses varies from state to state, but the total cost for a certification renewal from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians is $15 US Dollars (USD) for EMT-Basic and EMT-Intermediate. A paramedic recertification fee is $20 USD.

Outside the United States, an EMT is usually given different names. The United Kingdom, for instance, offers no official certification for their ambulance technician, while the position of paramedic is protected by law and requires extensive education. In Canada, on the other hand, the province of Alberta uses the term EMT only to refer to paramedics, who may need between three months and three years of training to earn the title.

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    • Two EMTs helping a woman.
      Two EMTs helping a woman.