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What is EMT class like?

Updated on May 25, 2015

What is EMT class?

EMT is an abbreviation for an Emergency Medical Technician. EMTs and paramedics are generally the people who ride and drive ambulances in response to 911 calls, where an EMT is a lower certification than a paramedic, providing basic life support (BLS), whereas a paramedic provides advanced life support (ALS). As someone who recently completed an EMT course, I want to share some lessons I learned:

First off, remember that working as an EMT is a medical job, and that means people's lives are actually in your hands, so I cannot understate the importance of paying attention and studying. I took this class at my local ambulance corps while I was still in high school, and balancing my public school classes with my EMT course load proved itself a worthy challenge, so I would like to draw a comparison: to anyone thinking of taking the class who works a full-time job, make sure you can find a few hours throughout the weeks of your course to read the chapters in your textbook, more so if you have not already completed an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) course, which is a lower level of certification than an EMT. My course was approximately five months long from my first class until I completed my cognitive and psychomotor exams, but there are also full-time courses available depending on your location.

People of all ages sign up for this course! My class consisted about half and half of high school students (ages 16-18) and adults already in the workforce (ages 20 and up). I believe the oldest person in my class was in his early to mid-thirties, but anybody of any age can start any time. However, you do have to be sixteen years old to sign up, and you must be at least eighteen to receive a national certification rather than a state certification (which you actually can't even receive anymore after you turn eighteen because all certifications are now at the national level).

The course consists of all the basics you might imagine a certified professional might need to know in the emergency medicine world. Topics range from cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), shock treatment, trauma assessments, bleeding control, immobilization and stabilization techniques, some pharmacology, all the way to obstetrics (yes, EMTs are trained to deliver babies on the ambulance if necessary), and more but normally not the firefighting section mentioned at the end of the video below. The course contains a plethora of information, which leads me to my next learned lesson.

Short Overview of an EMT Class

Nobody comes out of EMT class a great EMT. The class just simply cannot provide enough real-time experience to mold a person into a seasoned patient-care provider. Especially on the first few calls you run after your class, you are bound to make at least a few mistakes, but that's why ambulance crews never consist of just one person! Hopefully, you will have the help of other EMTs and paramedics running these calls with you (initially if nothing else), and the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) world is always readily waiting to help and teach, so never feel afraid to run a few shifts with people you don't know! Of course, there are a ton of easy calls (assuming you have the patience, and if not, maybe EMS isn't the career path for you) like emotional distress calls, "sick person" dispatches, and even nose bleeds (my first call was actually a ninety year-old man with a nose bleed). Even those calls can seem tricky at first because maybe you never became familiar enough with the equipment in class, and it can take some time to figure everything out. Just remember the skill comes with time and experience that the class probably will not provide.

Most of EMT class, depending on your course provider, actually revolves around lectures. If I had to take a rough guess on the ratio of lectures to skills practice days my class consisted of, I would estimate it to look like 10:1, which is understandable because you will take more written (cognitive) tests than skill (psychomotor) ones, but remember that career EMT jobs are only based on skills! Well, skills and piles of paperwork. Luckily, all the information is normally pertinent to the skill-set an EMT needs and the job he or she will presumably work after completion of the class. However, you are likely to come across information you might feel is ridiculous to spend class time on. One of my last classes was on what an ambulance is. (Spoiler: if you don't know what an ambulance is before the class, you might feel unprepared for EMS). However, learning the skills does not take a significant amount of time compared to the never-ending amount of information there exists to memorize. For the psychomotor tests throughout the course, they should be based on the evaluation sheets found on the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) website. You can find the specific link below:

In conclusion, I would like to give a final reminder that everything starts off as basic. The advanced information and skills will come later in the course to provide time for adjustment to the class and ultimately the EMS responsibilities, so try not to feel overwhelmed thinking about hours of lectures on topics you might not have even heard of yet.

I personally found my class to help develop some truly valuable life experiences. While this might just seem like a job, remember that the person you respond to has called 911 and might just be having the worst day of his or her whole life, and you showed up to help. That's what ultimately matters: we're just people who help other people.


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      Mark 2 years ago

      Helpful info