If you're in an accident and someone calls 911, the first responders will likely be a team of paramedics. Paramedics provide medical assistance to people in emergency situations. To become a paramedic you must obtain formal training, and every state requires paramedics to be licensed, though the qualifications differ slightly. Candidates who want to get to work as soon as possible can attend an accelerated program.
Get There Faster
Accelerated courses in paramedics are programs that are shorter than traditional ones simply because each school day is packed to the brim. Whereas some classes may meet for a couple of hours two or three nights a week, an accelerated program resembles the one at University of California, Los Angeles, where, as of 2013, students meet five days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for three weeks solid. These schedules differ depending on the school you're attending.
Accelerated paramedic courses are available to those who qualify. Stipulations depend on the state you live in and the school you choose. You may have to submit proof of medical insurance and a history of your immunizations. Nearly all schools require that you have a high school diploma or GED as well as a cardiopulmonary resuscitation certificate, commonly called CPR. You may also have to submit to a criminal background check.
Becoming a paramedic involves completing three levels of emergency medical training. The first level is basic emergency medical technician training. The second is advanced EMT training. The third and final level is paramedic training. In accelerated programs, such as the ones held at Horry Georgetown Technical College in Conway, South Carolina, you can complete the basic level, then go ahead and enter the field as an EMT while finishing your studies to become a paramedic.
Classwork and Field Training
Each level of training involves a combination of classroom training, called didactic training, and training in the field under the supervision of a professional. Riding along with trained EMTs and paramedics is mandatory, and it isn't always arranged by the school. You may have to reach out to a fire department or emergency service provider to schedule a ride-along yourself. Once you've successfully completed all phases of training, you'll be eligible to take the National Registry Paramedic Exam which opens the door to being licensed. In some states, taking the national exam is enough to earn licensure, while in others a student has to also take a state exam.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become an EMT or Paramedic
- Horry Georgetown Technical College: Emergency Medical Technology- Associate in Applied Science
- Mid-Plains Community College: EMT Paramedic (Accelerated)
- UCLA Center for Prehospital Care: Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) -- Course Details
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images