What Is An EMT?

Emergency medical technician (EMT) is a term used in some countries to denote a health care provider of emergency medical services. EMTs are clinicians, trained to respond quickly to emergency situations regarding medical issues, traumatic injuries and accident scenes.

In the United States, EMTs are certified according to their level of training. Individual states set their own standards of certification (or licensure, in some cases) and all EMT training must meet the minimum requirements as set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) standards for curriculum.The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) is a private organization which offers certification exams based on NHTSA education guidelines. Currently, NREMT exams are used by 46 states including Virginia, as the sole basis for certification at one or more EMT certification levels. An NREMT exam consists of skills and patient assessments as well as a written portion.

In order to apply for the NREMT Certification applicants must be 18 years of age or older. Applicants must also successfully complete a state-approved EMT course that meets or exceeds the NREMT Standards within the past 2 years. Those applying for the NREMT Certification must also complete a state-approved EMT psychomotor exam.

EMTs receive at least 180 hours of classroom training. EMT is the main entry level of EMS. The procedures and skills allowed at this level are generally non-invasive such as bleeding control, positive pressure ventilation with a bag valve mask, oropharyngeal airway, nasopharyngeal airway, supplemental oxygen administration, taking vital signs, pulse oximetry, glucometry, oral suctioning, eye irrigation, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), use of an automated external defibrillator (AED), splinting (including full spinal immobilization), traction splinting, childbirth, and medication administration (such as epinephrine auto-injectors, oral glucose, aspirin, nitroglycerin, and albuterol).

In addition you must complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain NREMT Certification.