This article provides an overview of the first responder training program, which is designed to fill the gap between advanced first aid training and EMT-Basic program. The US Dept. of Transportation (DOT) noted the gap between the usual eight hours of advanced first aid training course given by the Red Cross and the 180 hours of training given in the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)-Basic Program. It was also observed that some rural communities do not have sufficient funds for the complete EMT-Basic Program. Thus, the DOT established the first responder training program in 1995 and this is normally completed within 40 to 60 hours.
Those who complete the first responder training course are called First Responders who can assist EMTs and Paramedics in assisting in childbirth and providing basic first aid for bone and soft tissue injuries. First Responders also have training on how to package, move and transport the patients. Aside from CPR and first aid training, the First Responder has other lifesaving skills, such as knowing how to be protected from blood-borne pathogens, how to determine hazardous materials emergencies and unsafe situations, how to apply a splint, how to control bleeding, how to call for medical assistance, how to perform in-line spinal stabilization, how to transport a patient, and how to perform a lifesaving patient evaluation. First responders also need to be knowledgeable about emergency medical oxygen. Other important skills are the monitoring of vital signs, use of the automated external defibrillator, and advanced splinting.
This training for first responders is a minimum requirement for emergency service workers, particularly police officers and fire fighters. Other people also seek this kind of training because they are working in a location where medical help is far or when they are likely to be the first to be available during a medical emergency. Examples of non-traditional first responders are security guards, certain industrial workers in a big facility, workers at a remote site, teachers, school bus drivers, childcare workers, utility workers, park rangers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, camp counselors, lifeguards, ski patrollers, campus police, campus responders, search and rescue teams, fishing and hunting guides, athletic trainers, sports coaches, flight attendants, airline pilots, and bodyguards.
For remote settings, there is also the Wilderness First Responder training program. This is an 80-hour course that includes the standards for extended care and urban scenarios. Some of the special topics that are handled in this course are patient monitoring, improvised methods of splinting, realignment of dislocations and fractures, management of wounds and infections, advice on drug therapies, environmental emergencies, and long term management issues. This training program is designed to provide the participant with the skills and tools to perform critical decisions regarding evacuation and medical measures in remote locations. It should be noted that this program has been pre-approved by the Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services for 70 hours of EMT Continuing Education Hours. This course also provides 59.5 hours of credit for members of the Wilderness Medical Society who are aiming for a Fellowship of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.