Learn about initial training requirements for EMS Personnel

Find out what you need to do to become an EMT-Basic, Advanced EMT, or Paramedic.

Only EMT training institutions accredited by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) can provide initial EMT training that leads to Massachusetts certification as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

In Massachusetts, there are 3 levels of EMT: EMT-Basic, Advanced EMT, and Paramedic. In addition to accrediting training institutions, DPH offers those seeking to become EMTs, as well as already-certified EMTs, training information, course descriptions, past course locations, and applications for those who are interested in knowing more about being an EMT and what it entails. Continuing education information is also available.

Please note that the Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) issues registration numbers for every course held in Massachusetts. Check to be sure your program has an OEMS registration number.

EMT-Basic

EMT-Basics have an overall objective to improve the quality of pre-hospital emergency care rendered to victims of accidents and sudden illness. The training program develops skills in symptom recognition and in all emergency care procedures and techniques currently considered to be within the responsibilities of an EMT-Basic providing emergency medical care with an ambulance service.

EMT-Basics provide basic emergency medical care and transportation for critical and emergent patients who access the emergency medical system. EMTs possess the basic knowledge and skills necessary to provide patient care and transportation, and they function as part of a comprehensive EMS response under medical oversight. EMT-Basics perform interventions with the basic equipment typically found on an ambulance.

The initial training course for EMT-Basics consists of Didactic (classroom) learning that follows the National EMS Education Standards published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This level is the entry level of training for personnel who intend to work as EMT-Basics in conjunction with an ambulance service in Massachusetts and must be taught by a DPH-accredited EMT training institution.

In order to be eligible to be certified as an EMT-Basic, a person must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Abstain from the abuse of drugs which impairs professional judgment and/or practice;
  • Be free of any physical or mental impairment or disease which could reasonably be expected to impair the ability to be an EMT, or which could reasonably be expected to jeopardize the health and safety of the patient;
  • Meet the training requirements applicable to the level of certification
  • Obtain National Registry of EMTs (NREMT) certification by successfully completing a Massachusetts psychomotor (practical) examination and NREMT cognitive (computer-based) examination.

Once an individual obtains NREMT certification, they must apply for Massachusetts certification in order to work as an EMT-Basic in the Commonwealth. The application and instructions can be found on the Certification page.

  • Candidates are advised to explore the potential for employment (review help wanted ads, contact ambulance services about openings, etc.) before they enroll in an EMT training course. There are currently over 22,000 certified EMTs in Massachusetts.
  • If you are interested in obtaining emergency medical care (first aid) training, but do not intend to work as a professional EMT, it may be more appropriate for you to investigate the emergency first aid courses in your area. Call the non-emergency number of your local Emergency Medical Services provider to inquire about first aid courses in your area.

Advanced EMT

Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (AEMTs) provide basic and limited advanced emergency medical care and transportation for critical and emergent patients who access the emergency medical system. This individual possesses the basic knowledge and skills necessary to provide patient care and transportation. Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians function as part of a comprehensive EMS response, under medical oversight. Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians perform interventions with the basic and advanced equipment typically found on an ambulance. The Advanced Emergency Medical Technician is a link from the scene to the emergency health care system.

Advanced EMT has replaced the former EMT-Intermediate certification level, which is no longer recognized by Massachusetts.

Minimum training requirements for certification as an AEMT include completion of an EMT-Basic training program and Department-approved Advanced EMT initial training. The course consists of:

Additional Resources for Advanced EMT

Paramedic

The Paramedic’s primary focus is to provide advanced emergency medical care for critical and emergent patients who access the emergency medical services (EMS) system. This individual possesses the complex knowledge and skills necessary to provide patient care and transportation. Paramedics function as part of a comprehensive EMS response, under medical oversight. Paramedics perform interventions with the basic and advanced equipment typically found on an ambulance.

The Paramedic is qualified in advanced emergency care and services by a competency -based training program. This is accomplished through:

  • Rigorous didactic (lectures, discussions and demonstrations);
  • Laboratory (practical skill) sessions; and
  • Clinical (in-hospital instruction and supervised practice of critical skills) and field internships (supervised experience on an advanced life support ambulance)

Competencies include but are not limited to the recognition, assessment, and management of medical emergencies, trauma emergencies, and pharmacology under the indirect supervision of a physician. The Paramedic provides prehospital emergency care to acutely ill or injured patients primarily by advanced life support (ALS) ambulances.

The minimum training requirements for certification as a Paramedic include:

Since January 1, 2013 all initial Paramedic applicants seeking NREMT/MA Certification at the Paramedic level must have successfully completed paramedic training from a program accredited by, or one that is seeking accreditation from, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Additional Resources for Paramedic

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