Certified First Responder Course and Training Information

As those who arrive first at the scene of an emergency, certified first responders must possess the skills and knowledge needed to help ill or injured persons until advanced medical assistance is available. Read on to learn about the most popular courses for aspiring certified first responders, as well as training information.

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Essential Information

Training programs for certified first responders are widely available through professional organizations, colleges and universities. In many cases, these programs can be used as a jumping-off point for becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic. Courses and training programs typically prepare students for certification, which is required for this position.

List of Common Courses

The following course descriptions provide an overview of the most popular courses for certified first responders.

First Responder Course

First responder training is generally offered through a single course. Classes in the basic first responder course include lectures, demonstrations and interactive practice. Main topics include scene and patient assessment, airway breathing and circulation (ABC) for all ages, lifting and moving patients, basic first aid and triage. Legal and ethical issues of emergency treatment and an overview of how emergency medical system (EMS) services operate are also part of the curriculum.

Prospective students should be aware that some first responder courses lead to state certification, while others result in certification by both the state and the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. In some states, first responders are required to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification as well.

Basic Life Support (BLS) Training

BLS training, which includes instruction in CPR for both adults and children, is generally included in first responder courses. BLS classes teach participants to identify life-threatening situations, assess conditions and respond effectively. Airway and circulatory emergencies are emphasized. Students learn to remove obstructions in the mouth and throat and use an automated external defibrillator, commonly called an AED. Information is presented in an interactive format, with students practicing skills and techniques at learning stations supervised by the instructor.

Certified First Responder Refresher Course

First responders must be recertified per their state's requirements, usually every few years. Refresher courses incorporate any changes and updates in treatment and assessment techniques, particularly for airway and circulation emergencies. Courses also review various medical and trauma scenarios and the effective responses.

To enroll, students must already be certified as a first responder. Some states also require current BLS certification through the American Red Cross or American Heart Association. Refresher courses include labs and classroom time, and students are evaluated through both practical and written exams.

Certified First Responder Training Information

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) sets national standards for certified first responder training. The core emphasis is on development of ABC skills (especially airway), competence in primary assessment and techniques for patient and responder safety. State programs differ in specifics, such as hours required for certification and depth of CPR training, but all programs must address the seven basic DOT categories:

  • Preparatory
  • EMS Operations
  • Patient Assessment
  • Illness and Injury
  • Airway
  • Childbirth and Children
  • Circulation
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