Emergency Medical Technician-Basic, or B, training, is the first of four EMT training levels. Although all follow a training curriculum established and administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, additional training may be a requirement for the area in which you live or for specific job duties. Once you reach the level of an EMT-B, a variety of enrichment programs and continuing education opportunities prepare you to advance through remaining training levels.
If your training curriculum exactly follows the NREMT program, EMT-B training takes 110 hours to complete. However, the area in which you live has the option to increase this time to provide for additional classroom training and/or observation experience. For example, an EMT-B training program at the University of Iowa takes a total of 138 hours to complete. This includes 120 hours of classroom instruction and 38 of emergency room observation, for a total of 158 hours. An additional, although optional, recommendation is another 24 hours of ambulance ride time. Another program out of New York offers all-inclusive EMT-B training that takes 140 hours to complete with no additional requirements or optional recommendations.
Training objectives focus on basic life support care you administer on the scene of an accident or other emergency, as well as within an ambulance. Each objective focuses on providing the knowledge necessary to perform duties such as patient assessment, administration of basic emergency care and correct lifting and patient handling, safely and according to expectations.
To accomplish these objectives, the standard training curriculum includes 46 lessons in a series of seven modules, with an additional three lessons in an optional module. Training modules start with an overview of basic information, duties and responsibilities and progress to modules focusing on airways, patient assessment, special emergencies including obstetric and gynecological, trauma, special instructions and procedures for handling infants and children and a final module on operational procedures. An optional module can provide further instruction on dealing with airways.
Before you can look for employment as an EMT-B, you must pass an EMT certification exam. The NREMT administers the cognitive portion of the certification exam (see Resources). This is a computer-based exam that includes 70 to 120 questions you have two hours to complete. The second half of the exam involves skill demonstration. According to NREMT, state licensing laws determine the process you follow to complete this portion of the exam, and either your instructor or state EMS office can provide information specific to your state (see Resources).
Most states require basic life support (BLS) certification as a prerequisite to EMT-B training. The American Heart Association offers BLS training, both in a classroom and as an online version. It is important to note that this is not the same as taking a CPR class. Instead, BLS certification includes training in CPR as a part of training that also includes instruction in how to use an automatic external defibrillator, or AED, and how to treat someone who is choking.