Becoming an EMT in California
California Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training is similar to many other states. Becoming an EMT in California begins with going through an approved EMT program, passing the National Registry of EMT (NREMT) exams, and then getting approved for a California state EMT license.
Scroll down for more detailed information about each step in the California EMT training process.This page will also discuss California EMT scope of practice skills that emergency medical technicians of all levels are allowed to perform on the job.
EMS Levels Recognized in California
• Emergency Medical Responder (EMR)
• Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
• Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT)
• Paramedic (EMT-P)
• Critical Care Paramedic (CCP)
EMT Training in California
EMT training in California is offered at many schools and institutions throughout the state. Most EMT schools in California only offer the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic programs for study.
The Advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) certification is used mostly in rural areas of California. In fact, the AEMT may be the only EMS personnel available to provide immediate medical attention in those areas.
The AEMT certification is not recognized statewide so if you want to work as an AEMT, you should contact the local Emergency Medical Services Agency (LEMSA) in the area you want to work in.
When signing up for a California Paramedic program make sure the course is accredited. For an extensive list of approved California EMT training programs and accredited Paramedic programs in California go here: List of EMT schools.
A Critical Care Paramedic (CCP) is the highest level of EMS personnel recognized by the State of California. CCPs are paramedics with additional training and an expanded scope of practice which allows them to do critical care transports.
Critical care paramedics don’t need to be accompanied by a registered nurse during transports and are frequently used by flight ambulances. Critical care paramedics are accredited by a LEMSA and CCP training is done at a local level.
Like the AEMT, the critical care paramedic accreditation is not recognized statewide.
EMT schools in California teach students to respond quickly to emergency situations and transport the sick and injured while providing life saving care.
California EMT training programs prepare graduates to work in the field, make them competent to complete patient assessments, identify signs and symptoms of an emergency, and respond with the appropriate treatments.
After graduating from EMT training, students in California will be able to perform life-saving skills and respond to emergency situations with confidence. Some of these life-saving skills include managing myocardial infarctions, stabilizing fractures, hemorrhage control, and administering oxygen.
Some common emergency situations a California EMT will respond to are cardiac arrest, motor vehicle accidents, gunshot wounds, and falls.
EMT Schools in California
EMT schools in California all have a set of requirements which must be met in order to be accepted into the different levels of EMT training. Each EMT school in California can have slightly different requirements for entry, but in general most schools will have the following prerequisites.
• A California EMT must be 18 years old to have a California state EMT license. Some EMT training programs allow candidates to enter their program at 17 1/2 years old. However, they must be 18 years old by the end of the EMT training program.
• EMT schools in California require a high school diploma or GED certificate.
• EMT schools in California require applicants to complete the American Heart Association CPR-BLS for the Healthcare Provider. An acceptable alternative is American Red Cross BLS–CPR for the professional rescuer. (Some EMT programs include this as part of the EMT course instead of as a prerequisite.)
• Some California EMT programs require a current Drivers License.
• EMT schools in California require candidates have proof of Current Health Insurance. Some schools require students to stay insured throughout the entire California EMT training program. Some only require Health insurance during the clinical and ride along portion of the program.
• Some EMT schools in California will require a fingerprint based National background check and clean drug test. All candidates will eventually be required to pass the background check to obtain a California state EMT license.
• Applicants for EMT training in California must have a current negative TB skin test.
• EMT schools in California require applicants show proof of immunizations or titers for the following:
– MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
– Varicella (Chicken Pox)
• California EMT training programs in California require applicants show proof they have begun the Hepatitis B series of vaccinations. Usually 2 of the 3 shots done by the first day of class.
• Many EMT schools in California require a flu vaccine within the last year.
• Some EMT schools in California will require students to complete an English, Math, or Reading class as a requirement for school enrollment.
• Many California EMT training programs require applicants to pass a physical and obtain medical clearance from a physician. This clears students to meet the physical demands involved in EMT schooling. Often this can be done at the schools Student Health Center.
California EMT School Curriculum
California EMT programs are approved by State and Local EMS agencies based in different counties. For this reason, EMT training programs throughout California may have extra training hours specific to local areas.
However, there is a set of basic requirements all EMT schools in California must meet in order to be approved.
Basic EMT training in California requires at least 170 hours of training. Most programs exceed this amount of training hours. The training requires candidates have at least 10 patient contacts with at least 24 hours of clinical training and 146 hours of didactic and skill training.
Clinical Training: 24 hours
Didactic & Skills: 146 hours
Total: 170 hours
Advanced EMT training in California is usually offered as additional training after obtaining an EMT certificate. AEMT training in California requires at least 160 more hours of training, with a minimum of 15 patient contacts using Advanced Life Support (ALS).
At least 80 hours must be didactic and skill training, 40 hours must be clinical training, and there must be at least 40 hours of field internship.
Didactic & Skills: 80 hours
Clinical Training: 40 hours
Field Internship: 40 hours
TOTAL: 160 hours
There are many Paramedic training programs throughout California. Some require six months to a year of previous work experience as an EMT and some don’t require any experience for admission. All California Paramedic programs require at least a total of 1,090 hours of training with 40 ALS patient contacts.
At least 450 hours will be didactic and skill training and a minimum of 160 hours will be hospital and clinical training. The field internship training portion will be a minimum of 480 hours long.
Didactic & Skills: 450 hours
Hospital Clinical: 160 hours
Field Internship: 480 hours
TOTAL: 1,090 hours
California Critical Care Paramedic training programs can be found at local level by contacting LEMSAs. California programs require three years experience working as a paramedic before you can begin training to be a critical care paramedic. CCP training in California must be at least 202 hours.
There will be at least 108 hours of didactic and skills along with a minimum of 94 hours of hospital and clinical training.
Critical care paramedics are not tested through the NREMT like other levels of certification in California.
Instead a paramedic must get certification with the Board for Critical Care Transport Paramedic Certification (BCCTPC) by taking and passing their certification exam.
Didactic & Skills: 108 hours
Hospital Clinical: 94 hours
TOTAL: 202 hours
National EMT Certification
After completing EMT school in California, the next step is to pass the National Registry of EMT (NREMT) exams. Once candidates pass both these exams, they earn a National EMT certification from the NREMT. For more detailed information on both the exams check out our NREMT exam page.
The first NREMT exam is the Psychomotor exam and will be introduced to students by their EMT training instructor. The psychomotor exam is a practical, hands on test of the EMTs abilities.
Students usually schedule their exam towards the end of their California EMT training with the help of their school instructor.
Check out our tips for passing the psychomotor exam page for extra help.
The other exam candidates must pass to get their National EMT certification is the NREMT Cognitive Exam.
The Cognitive exam is a written exam administered using a computer which asks candidates to choose the MOST correct answer. California EMT Candidates can sign up for the computer adaptive test by going to the National Registry of EMT website and registering for a Cognitive exam test date.
Once a candidate has successfully passed both the psychomotor and cognitive exam in California, they will be contacted by the National Registry of EMTs.
The NREMT will automatically send a letter of congratulation along with your California EMT certification in the mail. At this point, many people want to begin working as a California EMT as soon as they can.
Can you begin working as an EMT once you get the NREMT certification?
The answer is:
First you must get your California State EMT License by applying at your local EMS agency (LEMSA). All candidates must get an EMT state license in California before they can work.
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