Frequently Asked Questions
for Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Education, Examinations, Certification and Continuing Education
1. What is the number of hours mandated for the new EMS certification programs?
While course completion time is based upon competency, the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) recommends the following minimum time frames:
- Emergency medical responder (EMR) = 48-52 hours
- Emergency medical technician (EMT) = 150-200 hours
- Advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) = 150-250 hours
- Paramedic = 1000 – 1200 hours
2. When were the new National EMS Education Standards, and updated certification examinations implemented?
The new National EMS Education Standards were announced by the DOH in 2012 and were implemented at the onset of all EMS certification courses required to be tested effective Jan. 1, 2013, as that was the effective date within the Pennsylvania for the new National EMS Education Standards on all recognized certification examinations.
The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) (EMR) and (EMT) psychomotor examination materials were utilized effective Jan. 1, 2013. The examinations were administered at Pennsylvania recognized EMS educational institutes/sites by the Pennsylvania Regional EMS Council educational coordinators and/or approved staff. Written examinations updated to the new National EMS Education Standards were administered from Jan. 1, 2013, until implementation of the basic level NREMT cognitive/ computer based examinations, which became effective Jan. 1, 2014. All examinations were, and continue to be, administered in accordance with the Pennsylvania EMS Act.
The emergency medical technician-paramedic (EMT-P) examination continued to be administered, until transitioning to the NREMT paramedic (P) level with the new National EMS Education Standards as of Jan. 1, 2013.
3. Were the educational training institutes required to implement new textbooks?
EMS educational institutes were to assure utilization of materials reflective of the new National EMS Education Standards at the onset of all EMS certification courses that began in September 2012 for candidates that would need to be tested effective Jan. 1, 2013 and beyond, as that was the effective date within the Pennsylvania for the new National EMS Education Standards on all recognized certification examinations.
4. EMT skill Sets: Are additional training equipment purchases required? (Transport ventilators, mechanical CPR devices, O2 humidifiers, simple mask, venturi masks, etc.)
EMS educational institutes must assure proper types and quantities of equipment and supplies to facilitate the number of students within all EMS certification courses, as all students choosing the option to certify must successfully complete Pennsylvania certification examinations to the National EMS Education Standards.
5. Were all exams required to be converted to the new educational standards by Jan. 1, 2013?
All EMS certification examinations recognized by Pennsylvania were required to be to the new National EMS Education Standards effective Jan. 1, 2013. The Bureau of EMS continues to recommend that all EMS educational institutes assure that the new National EMS Education Standards are reflected within all study materials, quizzes, exams/tests, etc. utilized by the EMS education institute.
6. What are the requirements for patient contacts for EMT? Observation versus assessment, number versus hours, emergency department versus urgent care center, versus ambulance?
Ten (10) patient contacts/assessments are required for successful completion of the educational program. The preferred order of preference for the locations are as follows:
- specialty center
7. What is the cost to meet clinical time requirements?
Requirements and costs may differ from agency-to-agency and/or from institution-to-institution, similar to what an EMS agency would require as part of an employment interview/hiring process.
8. What are the requirements for hospitals to permit student clinical time if that is the only available means to secure patient contacts?
This would be based upon internal facility policy, which may differ from institution-to-institution.
9. Are there documentation requirements for student patient contacts?
Yes, documentation requirements would be determined by the EMS education institute in conjunction with the agency and/or institution as part of the specific program design.
10. What will be expected of students within high school programs?
All students will be required to meet the minimum age limits, and successfully complete the EMS educational program to the National EMS Education Standards, as well as to sit for a Pennsylvania Department of Health - recognized certification examination.
11. Will students between 16 and 18 years of age be required to take a different test and obtain a state EMT certification, then take a NREMT test later to get their NREMT?
As of Jan. 1, 2013, all EMR and EMT candidates began taking a practical psychomotor examination reflective of the new National EMS Education Standards. Written examinations updated to the new National EMS Education Standards were administered by the Pennsylvania Regional EMS Council educational coordinators and/or approved staff, until Jan. 1, 2014.
Effective Jan. 1, 2014 all basic level EMR and EMT written certification examinations were transitioned to cognitive/computer based exams through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), and Pearson VUE Testing Centers. Application fee can be paid by credit card or through vouchers purchased by programs or individuals and distributed to exam candidates.
Current NREMT policy will recognize and credit the assessment exam results of individual candidates desiring NREMT certification, in addition to the Pennsylvania certification initially issued upon reaching the age of 18 within one year of successful exam completion. Interested individual candidates must personally make specific application, along with a nominal administrative fee through the NREMT Certification Department at 614-888-4484.
12. What is the fee attached to the NREMT examinations?
Current basic level EMR and EMT along with AEMT and P certification examination fees may be found on the
National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians website.
Pre-hospital registered nurses (PHRNs) and pre-hospital physician extenders (PHPEs) are required to take the paramedic assessment examination, and would be categorized on the same fee scale as the paramedic.
13. Will the state pay for the first attempt at the NREMT exam?
Not directly: Pennsylvania licensed EMS agencies may apply for Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund (EMSOF) reimbursement to cover the cost of the written (cognitive) exam for paramedic, prehospital registered nurse, prehospital physician extender, advanced emergency medical technician, emergency medical technician, and emergency medical responder certification, taken by their personnel at the rate established in the EMSOF priority list published annually in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Requests for reimbursement would follow the standard EMSOF application process.
14. Will there be additional Pearson VUE testing sites offering the EMS certification exams, or will individuals in areas with no testing sites have to travel to take an exam? Is there a plan for a class of 40 students getting into a testing site that only has six to eight seats and limited availability for testing appointment?
While some travel to an examination site may be necessary, currently the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians has numerous contracted Pearson VUE Testing Center locations within the commonwealth, as well as nationwide. NREMT continues to work with Pearson VUE and the Pennsylvania Department of Health for the establishment of additional locations. It should be noted that cognitive certification examination interest and scheduling, is an individual candidate responsibility based upon an individual’s personal availability and convenience, as well as the availability of the testing center location (not that of an educational institution).
15. Will continuing education be accomplished through DOH or through the NREMT?
DOH continuing education does not always equal that of the NREMT. While all Pennsylvania EMS certified providers must maintain their Pennsylvania certification as per the Pennsylvania requirements, those individuals desiring to maintain their NREMT certification need to assure that they also meet the requirements of the NREMT for such purpose. Current NREMT requirements may be found on the
NREMT website. The department will continue to offer free online continuing education courses on the Public Health Foundation’s TRAIN PA learning management system (LMS). Additionally, courses from the Commission on Accreditation for Pre-Hospital Continuing Education (CAPCE) [formerly known as the Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services (CECBEMS)] have been and continue to be accepted by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, since Jan. 1, 2014. Continuing education units may also be secured via Pennsylvania Department of Health recognized third-party vendors thru on-line, video/DVD, CD-ROM, magazine, etc. Most continuing education vendors assess a fee for their services, which is the responsibility of the candidate.