One of the first emergency personnel to arrive on the scene of an auto accident, natural disaster or other emergency, EMTs provide medical care and first aid to victims. Women make up only 30 percent of all EMTs as of 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health works with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians to provide basic certification for EMTs in that state.
The NREMT provides training standards for EMTs all over the country, offering six levels of certification, from First Responder to Paramedic. An EMT with certification from the NREMT shows potential employers that she has taken the appropriate training courses and passed a test preparing her to do the job of an EMT. Each state has its own requirements for EMT certification and licensing, with 46, including Illinois, using NREMT standards and testing.
Earning basic certification from the NREMT and IDPH means going back to school and completing an Illinois state-approved EMT training course. EMT training courses take place at community colleges, technical schools and specialty medical training programs across the state. After finishing an EMT training program, the candidate takes an EMT psychomotor test, a practical exam that covers bleeding control, ventilation, cardiac arrest, immobilization and patient assessment. Each section of the psychomotor test requires the test-taker to complete the various procedures step-by-step with prompting from the test examiner.
After completing an EMT course and passing the psychomotor test, the candidate registers for the NREMT-Basic exam. The IDPH proctors the exam at a number of different locations around the state, making it convenient for most Illinois EMTs to find a testing center near them. The written exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and test-takers must earn 70 percent or better to pass. The exam covers airway, ventilation, oxygenation, trauma, cardiology and EMS operations.
Candidates for certification must reserve a test date and location through the IDPH website. Each EMT must also print out and submit a registration form through the NREMT website. The NREMT registration form must have the EMT’s course instructor or EMS director’s signature. Other requirements needed to take the basic EMT certification test include paying the exam fee and having a photo ID. A candidate must submit proof that she holds current CPR certification for medical providers. She must also have her school’s director vouch for the candidate’s skills by signing a verification form.
It is not enough for an EMT to gain certification, she must also maintain it by applying for recertification every two years. Recertification requires completing 72 hours of continuing education classes, including a 24-hour EMT refresher course, every two years. Those wanting a quicker option for recertification can opt to retake the certification exam instead of fulfilling CE credits.
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