An article I found from Central Texas College on EMT night classes reminded me of an email I got from audience member Matt. The article is an announcement from the college that EMT night classes will be offered to prepare students to pass the NREMT exam for EMT-basic, or what is just EMT now.

EMT Education Upgrades

the_mediccastI wonder what effect the new, updated educational guidelines have had on students in this program? The reason I ask is because Matt raised the question about the new guidelines increasing cost of EMT training in Pennsylvania. He says that as of 2013, EMT classes in Pennsylvania have increased from 140 hours to 220 hours. Because of this, the price has gone from $450 to over $1000.

This has had many effects on the future volunteer EMTs in the state. Volunteer Fire Departments in the state are discontinuing paying for the EMT classes for their members because of the cost increases.  He says this is going to have a long term effect of many less EMT’s.  Matt says because Pennsylvania has a lot of country roads, rural areas, and snow, if you need emergency healthcare, you’re probably going to get mostly, if not all, volunteer EMT’s.

Fewer EMTs Due To Increased Standards

The new costs and guidelines will likely decrease the number of EMTs in the volunteer ranks. This could have the worst effect in the poorest, rural areas most commonly served by volunteers. Matt contends that increasing the standards to 220 hours for EMT students is just too much.

Unfortunately, while I appreciate all his comments and proposed effects, I don’t agree with his continued hold on the old educational standards. If we want to advance the profession of EMS to the next level, then we need to increase the educational standards of the professional levels of advancement. This includes EMTs.

We have to keep moving forward despite the roadblocks and hurdles in the way. Ultimately, fewer but better trained EMTs will be an improvement. At least I hope so. What do you think. Shoot me an email to and share your opinion. I look forward to hearing from you.


Follow-up on the link for this and other news items as well as all of the additional resource links in the show notes for this episode – CPAP EMS Review and Episode 346.


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2 Responses to Too Challenging Taking EMT Classes?

  1. Matthew C. Sterling says:

    I am a Training Officer and Vol FF/EMT on my local vol FD in Massachusetts, and I also work as an EMT in Boston for a private service. Being both full time and volunteer, I am seeing first-hand the effects of the increases in standards are having. We are currently transitioning from MA OEMS to NREMT, and almost everyone is complaining. I am starting my clinical portion of medic school and will be the first class in MA to test out with NREMT-P standards, but I look forward to it. FD’s and private EMS services are all upset because EMT’s have to take extra classes to come up to NREMT Basic status, and con-ed rules are changing. FD Unions are upset because Intermediates especially have a lot of work to do.
    Honestly, I feel that increasing the standards is wonderful. Too many people have joined EMS since 9/11 because they thought it was a flashy/cool job, or it was a stepping stone on their resume towards PA or some other healthcare job, and their work ethics usually reflect their general disregard towards furthering themselves. On my own Vol. FD, the chief recently put 14 FF’s through EMT school. I tried to tell them what to expect with changes, standards, Con-Ed, etc, but was told not to “scare them away.” Now that they have their EMT cards, they are all complaining because they didn’t know that there is so much involved beyond taking your initial class. I teach the Con-Ed for free for them, I help them recertify, answer their questions, and yet they still complain. I am very interested in seeing the EMT standards increased. I am one of those EMT’s who are making this my career, my profession, not just a job. I want to be as good as I can be, and I want the person next to me on a call to be just as willing to exceed standards as I am, not be some lunkhead who did the least possible and is upset that more is expected from them. I am trying to also go for my EMT I/C so that I can teach EMT classes, with the idea to go above and beyond just holding a class, but to also build in ambulance ride-time and hospital clinical time for the classes too. I want them to know more than the standards, to be exceptional. But it’s going to be interesting to see how much of the EMS population is going to drop out because of the new standards.
    MA OEMS estimates the state will lose approx. 60% of it’s EMT-I’s (a HUGE hit for Western Mass, who relies heavily on EMT-I’s), and also estimates approx. 30-40% of EMT-B’s will drop out, not wanting to make the change to NREMT EMT level. It’s sad. But hopefully that leaves a core of good strong providers.

  2. Dennis says:

    Only 220 hours ????
    I guess I have a hard time fathoming the lack of time in the whole EMT style system but then have to remember our Emergency First Responder program was set up similar…skills based as opposed to theory and education.
    Having said that…truly appreciate the time we spend in patho, anatomy, psych and the rest as it only broaches the surface, making one realize that as a profession…we have so much more to learn and that the initial 2 years in school is just the start for us.

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