Fire departments and other agencies rely on volunteer EMTs as on-call help and during certain types of emergencies. Volunteer EMTs may be newly trained EMTs looking for work experience or experienced EMTs participating in community service. Like paid EMTs, most volunteer EMTs must complete a training program and earn state or national licensure to begin working in the field. Some fire departments offer on-the-job training. As a volunteer, you can find positions at ambulatory services, fire stations and hospitals.
Complete Education Requirements
To become an EMT, you must have a CPR certification and high school diploma. Find training programs for EMT-basic, -intermediate and -paramedic at colleges, technical schools, volunteer fire departments and ambulatory services. The first-level EMT-basic delves into basic lifesaving techniques, such as handling emergencies and assessing patients. EMT-intermediate is the next level of training and covers IV fluids and complex airway devices. The advanced EMT-paramedic includes training to administer IV medication and stitch wounds and takes about two years to complete, typically through the completion of an associate’s degree. The programs combine classroom training, as well as 150 to 1,200 hours of hands-on training that may be completed in an ambulatory setting. At the completion of each training program, you can find a volunteer positions as an EMT-basic, EMT-intermediate or EMT-paramedic.
EMTs must have the ability to lift, bend and kneel, which requires a specific physical fitness level. Additionally, because they may work with seriously ill patients in life-threatening situations, they must demonstrate compassion for patients and their families. The ability to assess patients quickly and effectively and think on your feet are a must. EMTs also need to solve problems in tricky or high-pressure situations, and possess strong speaking skills to relay information.
EMTs at any level must be certified or licensed on the state or national level. While most states follow the guideline set forth by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, or NREMT, some states set their own requirements. NREMT certification requires that candidates be at least 18; complete an approved training program; and pass both the written and practical exams. Some states m also require that you to pass a criminal background check and complete an eight-hour course on driving an ambulance.
Find a Position
Search for volunteer positions on online EMT directories or by contacting volunteer fire departments or volunteer ambulatory services. As a volunteer, you complete the same basic tasks as a paid EMT, and some agencies pay volunteers a small stipend. Your services may only be needed on an on-call or standby basis. For example, volunteer EMTs may be called during a large fire or large-scale emergency. Or they may be scheduled for regular on-call shifts on a volunteer basis.
2016 Salary Information for EMTs and Paramedics
Emts and paramedics earned a median annual salary of $32,670 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, emts and paramedics earned a 25th percentile salary of $25,850, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $42,710, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 248,000 people were employed in the U.S. as emts and paramedics.