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NHTSA releases major updates to EMS education standards

Revision addresses issues such as pediatrics, geriatrics, behavioral/psychiatric health, cultural humility, EMS operations, pharmacology, and EMS wellness


The NHTSA published its first EMS education standards in 2009, and this is the first major revision.

Image/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration via Twitter

By Leila Merrill

WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its 2021 National EMS Education Standards on Monday.

The standards outline minimal competencies for entry-level EMS clinicians to perform their roles as described in the 2019 and 2021 updated National EMS Scope of Practice Model.

The standards were first published in 2009, and this is the first major revision.

The following topics had notable revisions:

  • public health;
  • pediatrics;
  • geriatrics;
  • behavioral/psychiatric;
  • cultural humility;
  • EMS operations;
  • pharmacology; and
  • EMS safety, wellness and resilience.

The complete document can be read here.

“EMS clinicians are the most critical resource in our nation’s EMS systems, and education is the foundation upon which those clinicians are created,” said Dr. Jon Krohmer, director of the NHTSA Office of EMS. “These newly released National EMS Education Standards, created by the EMS community, will help educators and education content providers continue to create competent, compassionate clinicians dedicated to providing people-centered, evidence-based care to their communities.”

An executive summary of the standards states that revisions and adjustments “were based on a team discussion, with expert consultation when needed.”

The NHTSA and the Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s EMS for Children Program funded the effort to update the standards through a process led by the National Association of EMS Educators.