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A certified first responder is a person who has completed forty to sixty hours of training in providing care for medical emergencies. They have more skill than someone who is trained in first aid but are not emergency medical technicians.

The American Red Cross conducts a course titled "Emergency Response" that fits this definition.

First responders in the United States[]


The U.S. Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) recognized a gap between the typical eight hours training required for providing advanced first aid (as taught by the Red Cross) and the 120 hours typical of an EMT-Basic program. Also, some rural communities could not afford the comprehensive training and highly experienced instructors required for a full EMT-Basic course. The First Responder training program began in 1979 as an outgrowth of the "Crash Injury Management" course.

In 1995 the D.O.T. issued a manual for an intermediate level of training called "First Responder."[1] This training can be completed in forty to sixty hours. Importantly, this training can be conducted by an EMT-Basic with some field experience -- which is a resource available "in-house" for many volunteer fire departments who do not have the resources for full EMT training. The first responder training is intended to fill the gap between First Aid and EMT-Basic.

First Responder Skills and Limitations[]

Lifesaving skills in the first responder course include recognizing unsafe scenes and hazardous materials emergencies, protection from bloodborne pathogens, controlling bleeding, applying splints, conducting a primary life-saving patient assessment, in-line spinal stabilization and transport, emergency defibrillation, when to call for more advanced medical help, and the use of oxygen and airway adjuncts. First Responders can recognize and treat a wide variety of ailments, including, but not limited to, strokes, heart attacks, poisonings, shock, hypo- and hyperglycemia, and heat- and cold-related emergencies. First Responders are also trained to deliver babies. However, a first responder does not have an EMT's skill at patient assessment and evaluation. They also lack the basic pharmocology training EMTs receive, and are thus not allowed to administer oral Glucose and Activated Charcoal, or assist with Nitro or inhalers. First responders do not have enough training to be the highest level of certification on a BLS ambulance, but may be present, although this is not their primary duty. They serve as secondary providers with some volunteer EMS services. A certified first responder can be seen either as an advanced first aid provider, or as a somewhat limited provider of emergency medical care.

First Responders can also administer the following airways when indicated and where standard of care permits:

  • Oropharyngeal Airway
  • Nasopharyngeal Airway
  • Combitube is being considered(with extra class hours) *****

As of 2006; First Responders(FR III) in the US are now allowed to administer EPI-PEN(classes are required)


NFPA regulation 1006 and 1670 state that all "rescuers" must have medical training to perform any technical rescue operation, including cutting the vehicle itself during an extrication. Therefore, in most all rescue environments, whether it is an EMS Department or Fire Department that runs the rescue, the actual rescuers who cut the vehicle and run the extrication scene or perform any rescue such as rope, low angle, etc, are Medical First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians, or Paramedics, as most every rescue has a patient involved.

Traditional First Responders[]

The first responder training is considered a bare minimum for emergency service workers who may be sent out in response to a call for help and is almost always required for professional firefighters.

The first responder level of emergency medical training is often required for police officers (in California, this training is referred to as "Title 22" after the law mandating such training).

Non Traditional First Responders[]

Many persons can be trained as first responders who would otherwise receive only an eight-hour first aid class. Typically, these persons are selected for first responder training because they are either likely to be the first on the scene of a medical emergency, or because they work far from medical help. These non-traditional first responders include:

  • lifeguards
  • park rangers
  • utility workers
  • teachers, childcare workers and school bus drivers
  • worker-volunteers in a large facility (industrial plant) or at a remote site (fish-packing plant, commercial vessel, oil rig)
  • truck drivers
  • security guards
  • bodyguards
  • general aviation pilots and commercial flight attendants
  • sports coach
  • hunting and fishing guides

First responder training is a cost-effective way to extend the reach of the emergency medical system, but not a substitute for EMT-Basic training for those employed to provide emergency medical services on a daily basis.

First responders in France[]

In France, the prehospital care is either performed by first responders from the fire department (sapeurs-pompiers, most emergency situations) or from a private ambulance company (relative emergency at home), or by a medical team that includes a physician, a nurse and an ambulance technician (called "smur"). The intermediate scale, the firefighter nurse (infirmier sapeur-pompier, ISP), is only a recent evolution and is performed by nurses specially trained acting with emergency protocols; these nurses are the French equivalent of the paramedics. The first responders are thus the most frequent answer to emergency calls.

First aid associations (about 15 nationwide associations, including the French Red cross, St John of Malta and the volunteers of the Civil protection) also train their volunteers as first responders; the diploma (CFAPSE) is exactly the same as the firefighters. They usually act in preventive first aid post, e.g. for concerts, sporting or cultural events.

The volunteers first responders can take part of an emergency rescue team in case of disaster; due to the bad response time (usually some hours to gather the teams), they usually deal with minor casualties, but could theoretically act in first line. In some places (e.g. in Paris), the volunteers take part of the public rescue and partly replace the firemen during the week-ends.

The diploma required to be first responder is the CFAPSE (certificat de formation aux activités des premiers secours en équipe, "certificate of training to team first aid"). It lasts about 50-60 hours, and the final exam is under the responsibility of a physician, a representative to the préfet (responsible of emergency situations in the département) and several instructors (usually from various associations and from the fire department). They must also follow every year 6 hours of continuing training.

The first responders activity is called secourisme ("rescuism") or prompt secours ("fast aid"), to make the difference with the premiers secours ("first aid") performed by the bystanders (although the name of the diploma contains the words premiers secours...).

Education (CFAPSE)[]

The orgnization will change in 2006. The following describes the situation between 1991 and 2005

The CFAPSE (50-60h) is made of ten modules:

  • E 1. - the CFR team (team work, organisation of the civil defense and integration in an emergency operation, as professional rescuer or as community emergency response team)
  • E 2. - Assessment and evaluation and voice radio communication
  • E 3. - emergency casualty movement and patient positions for transportation
  • E 4. - Casualty lifting
  • E 5. - Casualty movement
  • E 6. - Bleedings, wounds, burns
  • E 7. - airway permeability (recovery position made by three CFR after motorcycle helmet removal and neck immobilisation by a cervical collar, mouth vacuum aspiration of mucosity)
  • E 8. - Mechanical ventilation with devices (bag valve mask)
  • E 9. - Oxygen first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and Automated external defibrillation
  • E 10. - Immobilisations (splints)

It is possible to follow only a partial course (12h) with the E1, E2, E7, E8 and E9 modules. This "first-level" course is called the attestation de formation complémentaire aux premiers secours avec matériel–AFCPSAM (additional first aid course with equipment).

See also[]

de:Helfer vor Ort fr:Secouriste he:מגיש עזרה ראשונה