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Number 105                                                                                              September 1995
U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590




At the core of the success of an emergency medical services system (EMS) is the training given to the providers who initiate emergency care. There are more than 700,000 professionals who provide emergency prehospital care to victims of illness and injury across the United States. The First Responder: National Standard Curriculum is the new name for the revised and updated Emergency Medical Services First Responder Training Course (1978).

Throughout the country, police, fire and EMS First Responders are trained to the National Standard Curriculum. These professionals include public service First Responders and three levels of Emergency Medical Technicians -- Basic, Intermediate, and Paramedic. The foundation curriculum for their prehospital training is the EMT-Basic: National Standard Curriculum.

Medical arts and technology are rapidly advancing fields and new life saving techniques have been developed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for developing training courses that are responsive to the guidelines established by the Highway Safety Act of 1966 as amended. Courses developed to date provide national guidelines for training and, in most cases, have been incorporated into state legislation. Although states modify these programs to meet their individual requirements, all states use the NHTSA National Standard Curricula as a basis for their training. The NHTSA training materials must be accurate, current, and consistent with guidelines and practices accepted nationally.

In January 1990, NHTSA conducted a national consensus workshop on Emergency Medical Services training programs to identify training needs, establish training priorities, and review and rank existing curricula for revision. This conference led to the revision of the EMT-Basic: National Standard Curriculum, which was released in 1994, and the development of the National Emergency Medical Services Education and Practice Blueprint. These two programs form the foundation and the road map for future EMS curricula development. The revised First Responder curriculum evolves from the EMT-Basic curriculum, following the Blueprint to effectively bridge sequential core curricula.

The First Responder course includes the same general content as the EMT-Basic course but is intended for public service law enforcement, fire, and EMS rescue agencies that do not necessarily have the ability to transport patients or carry sophisticated medical equipment. It excludes the equipment and transportation knowledges and skills sections. Both revised course materials are based on task analysis of interventions and outcomes for both provider and patient. They differ from the earlier curricula in that they are assessment rather than diagnosis-based, are organized by task, and focus on essential operational and medical content.

In revising the curriculum, the project staff sought the help of educational design experts, a curriculum development group, and Medical Directors. Representatives of the major national EMS organizations and a large contingent of outside reviewers participated. The revised curriculum was pilot tested in urban and rural settings in North Carolina and Minnesota to assess the design and content changes. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the US Department of Health and Human Services joined with NHTSA to fund the curriculum development and pilot testing. Improvements to the curriculum were made as a result of these pilot tests.

The course remains at about 40 hours of instruction. The move to an assessment-based curriculum makes the revised materials significantly different from previous versions. During the transition period, there will be some providers who were trained with the 1978 version and new First Responders trained with the new curriculum. Those trained under the older version will have to complete a transition course to learn the new skills and subjects.

Following initial distribution to State Emergency Medical Services offices, the Course Guide and Instructor Lesson Plan of the First Responder: National Standard Curriculum may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, PO Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954, or telephone orders may be placed at (202) 512-1800.

For more information, contact John Chew, Emergency Medical Services Division, NHTSA, NTS-42, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590, (202) 366-5440.

 U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway
Traffic Safety
400 Seventh Street, S.W. NTS-33
Washington, DC 20590

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