Current and past EMTs, help me, please! I want to join you.
June 10, 2009 5:47 PM   Subscribe

How does a girl go about becoming an EMT in the Boston-area?

I've recently decided that I'd like out of retail and into the emergency response field. I live in Boston, I'm 23, with a year and a half of college under my belt, and I'm dear god so broke.

What options exist for me? As in, exactly what training/process is required to become an EMT, what schools in the Boston area provide this training, how much does a program typically cost, and is financial aid available?

Google-ing has produced an overwhelming number of contradictory and confusing answers.
posted by chichimimizu to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sure someone can give you more region specific information, but I took my EMT classes/certs at a community college. I would also contact some local ambulance services (they're in the phone book) and ask them for some info about where and how, costs etc. Heck they can maybe give you a part-time job as a kind of intern while you are in school. That's what I did (in California, not Boston, and like 20 years ago, but still). As for financial aid, contact the college. Good luck.
posted by elendil71 at 6:26 PM on June 10, 2009

Seconding Community College - most states will let you get your certifications through them, and community colleges are usually relatively cheap. Getting this done in CA 15 years ago, it was like $20 a credit.

THis may help you get started, at least on who to call to follow eledil's advice above:
Metro Boston is Region 4.
posted by bartleby at 6:35 PM on June 10, 2009

I took an EMT class through my university. So nthing looking into your local community college.
posted by at 6:39 PM on June 10, 2009

This page, from the Mass. state government website, gives a good overview of the EMT certification process. Your first step is to sign up for a training course, which will take about 100 hours and should cost you around $600-900.

The training institution needs to be state accredited, and you can find a list of them here. As you can see, there's a lot of choices, and it's important to choose a good one--not just to be the best EMT possible, but to prepare adequately for the state certification exams. I found my school by checking with my local EMS squad and finding out who they used to take care of their continuing education requirements. If you know anyone in the field, definitely get their recommendation. Local community colleges also offer EMT training programs for a reasonable price (although, since I didn't go this route, I can't speak to their quality).

Once you've found a good training program, they should guide you through the state certification procedures (which consist of a practical exam and a written exam). I recently went through the Massachusetts EMT-B training process (although I'm considering volunteer work, not an EMS career). Feel free to get in touch if you'd like more details--good luck!
posted by frogpondian at 7:31 PM on June 10, 2009

Your first step is to sign up for a training course, which will take about 100 hours and should cost you around $600-900.

Huh. Just for comparison, I recently got my North Carolina EMT-B after one semester of evening classes at a local community college - total cost: $65 plus the cost of the textbook. Shop around in Boston.
posted by mediareport at 8:01 PM on June 10, 2009

My sister is an EMT in the Boston area --- she completed her certification while at college in Western Mass. But you should know that being an EMT in Boston itself has additional requirements (residency, for one, although it seems like you've got that covered) and I believe is run through the BFD. You get paid more in the city but also see more true emergencys --- when my sister worked in the 'burbs, a lot of it was transferring elderly patients from hospital to nursing home to rehab, etc.
posted by Diablevert at 8:22 PM on June 10, 2009

I don't know if you're in Boston, or near Boston. If you're not in Boston proper, there may be volunteer fire/ambulance corp that would help with training.
posted by Marky at 8:34 PM on June 10, 2009

I don't know if Boston has a similar system to NJ at all, but if cost is a significant factor you may consider this: In NJ, if you're a member of a volunteer service you can get go to school for free. Also, there are intensive programs out there if you need a faster certification.
It would also be useful to you to know whether you'll need National Registry certification or Mass only - I initially had Nat. Reg. and wanted to work in NYC.... well, I had to recertify (24hr CEU's ) in NJ to get NJ State certification which would then allow me to apply for reciprocity in NYC... 8 miles away from my house.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:43 PM on June 10, 2009

Your first step is to sign up for a training course, which will take about 100 hours and should cost you around $600-900.

Have things changed that drastically? When I got my EMT-B about a decade ago I paid $100 and bought a book. Took the training through a neighboring small town Fire Department.

If you're in Boston and want to work in Boston, forget about working for Boston (for now). That's an extremely sought after position, it's not uncommon for Paramedics to take the gig starting as EMT-B's just to get a foot in the door. But that's OK, you want to get some experience anyway. The best course of action is to find an affordable EMT-B course and then apply with a private service, preferably one that has some emergency contracts. Off the top of my head the larger Boston services are Fallon, Armstrong and Action.

It may be worth contacting those services BEFORE you take a course, when I was working in EMS for AMR they offered free EMT-B classes if you were willing to sign a short contract. I don't see any of the Boston services offering a similar deal online, but it can't hurt to ask. You're also likely to have instructors working as EMTs or Paramedics at those services who could help you find a course.
posted by paxton at 4:08 PM on June 11, 2009

Find out who is teaching at Bunker Hill Community College...if it's still Carl Weinstein SIGN UP. He's cranky, grumpy, sarcastic, and helped write the first laws that created the EMT program. You WILL learn from him and the people he's able to attract as guest lecturers will amaze you (We had the head of the ED at City come teach for us a couple times) I don't know if Bobby Silva is still teaching there he's good people too.

Either way, the program at Bunkie was solid, when I was there both Carl and the other instructor were working medics and not just classroom wonks.
posted by legotech at 8:29 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

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