An ambulance technician — also known in the US as an Emergency Medical Technician Basic (EMT-B) — is a healthcare provider that provides emergency care to victims of accidents or disease. Ambulance technicians are employed by governmental entities, private transportation companies or volunteer community rescue organizations. Special training, usually three months long, is required to become an ambulance technician, usually provided at technical schools and community colleges. In the US, the term EMT-B reflects that the technician has achieved at least the first level of training known as Basic Life Support or BLS. Successful completion of an examination and state licensure is required to become an ambulance technician.
There are no educational prerequisites to enrolling in classes to become an ambulance technician, although at least a functional degree of literacy and basic arithmetic skills are assumed. In the US, the three month-long class curriculum, textbooks and tests are all standardized by the nation's certifying organization, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). A prospective student must also be at least 18 years old, a US citizen and pass a criminal background check in order to become an ambulance technician. A valid driver's license is also required if the organization's ambulance technicians are expected to exchange driving and patient care duties. Requirements to become an ambulance technician in the United Kingdom (UK) are similar.
Once the prospective student has begun classes to become an ambulance technician, she must study the material carefully and regularly. There are regular evaluations to assess student knowledge by both written examinations and practical demonstrations. Students are often given the opportunity to observe emergency procedures and situations in "ride alongs" or scheduled emergency room shifts. If the prospective student finds herself queasy when faced with blood or other bodily fluids, she may reconsider her decision to become an ambulance technician.
Although ambulance technicians have not completed advanced life support training, they must be capable of performing all the skills required of a basic life support certification, including providing basic first aid, stabilizing the spine and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as necessary. A prospective student considering whether or not to become an ambulance technician must retain both her training and her composure despite the usual urgent and often chaotic nature of the work environment.