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Emergency Medical Technicians


American systems for providing emergency medical services and transport to hospitals did not receive much attention until the 1960s. Before that time, ambulance drivers and attendants were often volunteers who had undergone some first-aid training. The quality and quantity of their instruction and experience varied widely, as did the medical equipment they had available in their vehicles. By current-day standards, much of the nation's initial ambulance service was deplorable.

A major milestone was the federal Highway Safety Act of 1966, which included, for the first time, uniform standards for emergency medical services. Another important piece of federal legislation was the Emergency Medical Services System Act of 1973, which authorized funds for research and training. In addition, this act also made money available for organizing regional emergency medical systems.

In 1970, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) was formed. Today, NREMT is an independent agency that establishes qualification levels for EMTs, determines the competency of working EMTs through examination, and offers educational and training programs to promote the improved delivery of emergency medical services. NREMT provides uniform national certification for qualified EMTs who wish to be included in the National Registry.

In 1971, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a national standard basic training course for ambulance personnel. By 1977, all the states had adopted the DOT course, or a close equivalent, as the basis for state certification. Now, more than 600,000 individuals have taken this basic training course.

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