Top 5 Reasons for Online EMS Continuing Education

Author: James Cassin

Online EMS training is a great way for paramedics, EMTs and other first responders to learn the skills they need outside of the traditional classroom. It’s especially helpful for providers who may be juggling other family or work needs.

Before getting into more of the details, it’s important to note that online learning is not always the best process for every learner. Unlike traditional learning environments, online training is student-centered. You can access any module in any sequence that you desire; you do not have to do them in order. This means that you are responsible to complete the material on your own. You will need to be disciplined in your study habits and able to work independently. If you are highly motivated, log on regularly and participate – you will be successful. If you require the structure of a classroom, this method may create some challenges for you.

So what is it that makes online learning such a great option for EMS continuing education? Here are five of the top reasons:

  1. An online system tracks expirations and will automatically send reminders to personnel about missing requirements. This helps eliminate last-minute scrambling to meet deadlines.
  2. When a user completes an online course and earns a certificate, it is automatically recorded. This ensures that the student can easily see where they are in the recertification process.
  3. Classes can be completed between calls, during a lunch break, or even from home. This flexibility allows EMTs and paramedics to fit the training to their lifestyle.
  4. Online training systems allow agencies to provide standardized, consistent content on any schedule they choose. This is especially helpful as operating budgets shrink and scheduling training sessions with the entire staff becomes more and more challenging.
  5. Students can complete the module at the speed that they desire. This allows individuals to spend more time on subjects that they may not be familiar with, and to move more quickly through material they already know. Plus, all this content is available 24/7 from anywhere they have an internet connection.

There is a myth that online classes are easier than those taught in traditional classroom EMT or paramedic recertification courses. That is incorrect. They are just different. In fact, technology today makes it possible for online classes to include lectures, multimedia demonstrations, simulations, discussion groups, testing and written assignments. Of course, you may still need to attend an in-person session to complete things like a skills verification.

Transitioning to Online Learning

For agencies that are considering a switch to an online Learning Management System (LMS), there are several items to be considered. You’ll need to ensure it provides the right content and that the programs are kept up-to-date. Think about your staff and how easily they will be able to interact with the new system.

It’s also important to consider the backend capability. Can you generate reports? Are you able to upload your own content? What management features are available? Careful planning and providing an implementation schedule to your team so that they understand the software will also help ensure the new system is an effective education tool.


  1. National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE). Position paper on The Use of Internet-based Distributed Learning in EMS Education.
  2. The Benefits of Online Learning, Tom Snyder, President of Ivy Tech Community College, Huffington Post  January, 2013
  3. NYS Bureau of EMS Continuing Medical Education Recertification Administrative Manual March, 2013.
  4. Monroe-Livingston Regional Emergency Medical Service Council evaluation of Learning Management Systems March, 2011.

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