How Volunteer EMTs Work

Volunteer EMT Training

Do you know what type of emergency medical technician (EMT) you'd like to be? Currently, there are five different levels of EMT certification that vary in skill level. In order of responsibility level (from lowest to highest) they are: First Responder, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate: 1985, EMT-Intermediate: 1999 and Paramedic [source: U.S. Labor].

Training classes are most commonly offered by the following institutions: community colleges, technical schools, hospitals, fire departments, emergency medical service (EMS) organizations and police academies. An easy way to find a training site in your city is to check with your state's health department. Sometimes, the health department's Web site will have a list of approved EMS education programs and training sites that you can download from the comfort of your home [sources: AMA, MDCH, NDHHS].


In training, you'll learn how to assess a patient's health status and how to quickly respond to the situation. EMTs learn basic life support skills for treating cardiac arrest, bone fractures, obstructions to the airway and more. These courses also cover the proper use for common medical emergency equipment such as a stretcher or splint -- tools that EMTs use every day [source: U.S. Labor].

For each progressive level of EMT certification, the amount of required training increases. Below are the approximate total hours of training needed for each level [source: AMA]:

  • First Responder -- 40 hours
  • EMT-Basic -- 110 hours
  • EMT-Intermediate -- 200-400 hours
  • Paramedic -- 1,000 hours

Once training is complete, all EMTs must pass two types of tests. In order to be certified as an EMT, you'll need to pass a written examination and a practical application test. These tests must be administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) or an NREMT-approved program run by the state [source: US Labor].

See the next page for information on some of the perks you'll receive after becoming a volunteer EMT.