What Does it Take to be a Certified First Responder?

by Digby_Adams

How to become a Certified First Responder and what you can expect your job responsibilities to be.

What is a first responder? I've noticed when I watch news programs that they've changed the way that they refer to fire and police performing their duties. It used to be that they would say, "Boston fire fighters and police are at the scene of an explosion on Commonwealth Avenue." Now they usually say something like, "First responders are on the scene..." It made me wonder just what is a certified first responder and what do they do. Well a certified first responder is a person who's been trained in many kinds of first aid. When they are the first on a scene of an accident or medical emergency they can assess the injury and stabilize a person. Then when the EMTs or paramedics arrive they can quickly describe the situation to them. Their training status is in between someone who has taken a CPR course and an EMT.

Who are Certified First Responders?

Yes it is true that most fire and police personnel are first responders. But they are not the only people or professionals that may be the first to arrive on an emergency situation. The Office of Homeland Security has let it be known that regional malls could be a terrorist target. On a less onerous note, how many times have we heard of a motorist driving through a storefront. Therefore it only makes sense that mall security guards be trained as certified first responders. You'll also find that many park rangers, hunting and fishing guides, airport ground personnel or school bus drivers have received first responder certification.

What does a Certified First Responder Do?

Well they are the first on the scene in a medical emergency. For example mall security guard may encounter a woman giving birth, a stabbing victim, or a man having a heart attack in the parking lot. The guard's job as a first responder is to be able to assess the patient's condition and deliver first aid. This can mean delivering the baby, stopping bleeding or performing CPR or using a defibrillator.

 A certified first responder should also be able to stabilize a broken bone. If a spinal injury is suspected the first responder knows how to protect the spine from further injury.

How to be a First Responder

State governments are in charge of regulating the process of being a certified first responder. So the process will vary in each state. Generally the program for first responder certification will be a combination of coursework and practical training. It should include patient assessment, childbirth, bleeding, airway and breathing, illness and injuries and defibrillation. The handling of hazardous materials might also be part of the program. You can expect the course to last between 60 and 90 hours. After the course completion you will have to pass a written examination in many states.

Minimum requirements to begin the process. You do have to be of legal age in your state. So figure at least 18 years of age. Most programs require a high school diploma. You might also have to pass a background check.

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How to Find First Responder Classes

Community Colleges Train Most First Responders

What Does it Take to be a Certified First Responder?
Have a chat with the teachers at your local community college. For example if you live in Monroe, New York the Monroe Community College of the State University of New York has a course called EMS First Responder. It is intended for non-ambulance professionals who might be the first to arrive on a medical emergency scene. Students will learn patient assessment, CPR review, shock and wound management, full-body immobilization, It includes 24 hours of classroom instruction and 19 hours of field work. After you complete this course you are allowed to sit for the New York State Department of Health Certified First Responder certification exam. The course is offered three times a year.

This is very typical of what I've found for most first responder classes. So your first call should be to your local community college.

Advanced First Responder Training

First responder can be a confusing term. While it can refer to the entry level medical responder who stabilizes a situation in anticipation of EMTs or paramedics arriving, it can also refer to the training that fire and police personnel receive for very complex situations. You'll also see emergency room doctors and other highly trained medical professionals participating. These are often held by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security or The National Fire Protection Agency. These first responder courses involve advanced coursework on difficult rescues such as from rubble or sinking airplanes or the handling of very toxic or flammable materials. The certified first responder certification is really the first step in this process.

Updated: 04/30/2012, Digby_Adams
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katiem2 on 04/26/2012

What a great resource for anyone interested in becoming a first responder. Interesting for the rest of us as who doesn't need the need for emergency aid? You never know and these angels are amazing.

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