Emergency Medical Responder: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for emergency medical responders. Get the facts about training and certification requirements, salary and projected job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Emergency Medical Responder Do?

Emergency medical responders (EMRs) save lives by providing immediate aid and interventions for patients before the arrival of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and doctors, or during their transport to a hospital. They must quickly assess a patient and determine methods of treatment. Once they arrive to a hospital, EMRs must relay important information concerning the patient's condition and the care they provided to the nurses and doctors. These professionals often need to report the medical care they provided. They also clean and disinfect any equipment or supplies that they used while treating a patient. The following chart gives you an overview of this first step in an emergency medical services career.

Degree Required High school diploma
Training Required Approved EMR course
Certification Required National Emergency Medical Responder Certification
Job Growth (2014-2024) 24% for EMTs and paramedics *
Median Salary (2015) $31,980 for EMTs and paramedics*

Source: *U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is an Emergency Medical Responder?

An emergency medical responder (EMR), also identified as a first responder, is the lowest level of practice for an emergency medical service professional and often precedes the level known as Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT-B). Many candidates become EMT-B without formally working as a first responder, but those seeking immediate entry-level employment may prefer the shorter training period necessary to become EMRs.

In this role, you assist emergency medical technicians in accidents, emergencies and critical childbirth. You may assist with providing first aid for flesh wounds and/or bone and soft tissue injuries. You may help with a patient's airway management and resuscitation. You also provide patients with protection when preparing them for transport to the hospital. This may include stabilizing the spine and neck, controlling bleeding and protecting them from infection or exposure to hazardous substances.

What Type of Education or Training Do I Need?

Requirements to become an emergency medical responder vary by state. In all cases, you must complete a first responder course that meets the standards provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation First Responder National Standard. This involves satisfying a number of training and practice hours; this number was 40-60 hours as of 1995. Comparatively, an EMT-B needed 120-150 hours of training in September 2016. Training teaches you basic life support, bandaging and oxygen treatment as well as other emergency care treatments.

Within two years of completing this course, you qualify for certification a first responder by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). You must be CPR-certified and possess a minimal level of emergency response skills. You must pass both a psychomotor exam and a cognitive exam that covers various forms of patient care for adults and children.

What Is My Potential Salary?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2015, emergency medical technicians and paramedics who worked for local government agencies earned average annual incomes of $39,000, while those employed by state agencies took home an average of $59,890 a year. Emergency medical technicians employed by ambulatory health care providers earned an average of $32,550 in 2015, per BLS data.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Firefighters, police and detectives are a few similar jobs that require at least a high school diploma, and usually some kind of postsecondary nondegree award. Firefighters respond to emergency situations, including fires. They help put the fires out and administer first-aid as needed. Police work to protect the public and property. Detectives specialize in finding evidence and information surrounding criminal investigations.

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