What does it take to be involved with EMS?
EMS Training, Education, Certification & Field Clearance
In New York, the NYS Department of Health - Bureau of EMS governs EMS providers in terms of procedure, standard operating guidelines/protocols and educational requirements for certification.
Here is a listing of the time range for each level of care in New York:
EMT-Basic: 150-190 hours of instruction
AEMT: 150-250 hours of instruction
Paramedic: 1000-1300 hours of instruction
Note: each collegiate institution or program chair submits their curriculum for Bureau of EMS approval based on content, not a concrete number of instructional hours. Additionally, these hours may not reflect the total number of clinical hours that are required in addition to classroom learning. Clinical time consists of ambulance ride time, emergency room clinical time, and operating room clinical time (depending upon your program requirements).
During the program, students will complete classroom based lecture/learning as well as hands-on training. Students are routinely tested with module exams and lab/hands-on testing which are graded by the instructor. Students are expected to maintain an average in the course or be subject to removal from the program. At the end of the training, students will be required to take a class final exam. If they fail this exam, they will not be permitted to sit for the state final examination. If the students maintain the minimum required class average and pass the class final exam, the students will be permitted to sit for the state final examinations which are in two parts: practical examinations (hands-on scenario based stations with proctors) and the written examination. If the students pass the classroom examinations, state practical and state written examinations, they will now be certified at their level of care in the State of New York.
Once certification has been achieved, the students will report back to their home agency and begin their field training with a Field Training Officer (FTO). This process is dictated by each agency and their respective Medical Director (a Medical Doctor). This process will involve training on the agency ambulances, equipment, medications and procedures and lastly a series of calls to ensure proper handling and competency. Once the FTO and Chief of Operations (or other designated company official) is confident in the newly certified member, the responder will be cleared to handle calls on their own.
As you can see, before responders are at your emergency there is a very heavy amount of training, education, clinical experiences, examinations and field training of each of these responders. Being involved in EMS is a true calling and dedication of each responder....paid or volunteer!
It is also worth mentioning that in our region, annual certification of your skills for your scope of practice is required. These audits are required to be turned into our regional EMS council office. Additionally, certifications are only valid for 3 years. Responders must complete a designated amount of Continuing Medical Education (CME) hours to recertify at their level of care.
EMS is also very strict with self-governing and continuous positive feedback for our responders. Each call will generate a Patient Care Report (PCR) that will memorialize our clinical findings, procedures performed and medications administered. This is a critical part of any patients medical chart that is given to the hospital. These PCR's are also subject to audit by a companies internal compliance and Quality Assurance committees; as well as review by the agency Medical Director (a doctor). These procedural steps are in place to ensure our responders are competent and ready to handle the emergencies of our residents and neighbors!
Responders, whether paid or volunteer, are held to the same standard state-wide! As you can see, this field is a continuous heavy dedication and true calling to help others!