The NREMT recently made an announcement to extend the recertification deadline for EMS personnel. The new deadline is June 30, 2020. In addition, EMS workers may also use distributive education in place of live classroom instruction.

We caught up with NREMT Executive Director Bill Seifarth, to ask if he could share any additional details about these recent decisions. In an emailed statement given exclusively to Distance CME, here is what Seifarth said:

On March 13, the National Registry of EMTs Board of Directors took the first of many decisive actions to preserve the national EMS workforce during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. The National Registry extended the March 31, 2020 certification expiration date to June 30, 2020 for over 100,000 EMS personnel. Although the National Registry expiration date was extended, individual EMS providers are encouraged to monitor guidance from your state EMS office related to licensure expiration dates.

In addition to extending the certification expiration dates, the Registry’s Board also temporarily waived all Distributive Education (DE) limits until June 30, 2020. It is important to note that the change to the Distributive Education limits is retroactive; any Distributive Education completed during the current recertification cycle can be used to meet the recertification requirements.

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians is committed to keeping the public safe — for the last 50 years and especially today in these unprecedented times amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeremy Gassert on the NREMT Deadline

Next, we caught up with Jeremy Gassert, Education Manager with Distance CME, to get his take on the recent changes. Here’s what Gassert had to say.

Q:  What exactly is distributive education?

A: We define distributive education as online courses or distance learning where you do not have real time interaction with an educator. For example, if the instructor recorded a webinar and made it available as a recording — this would be an example of distributive education.

Q:  The NREMT recently announced their decision to allow distributive education instead of the usual requirement of live classroom instruction for recertification. Can you tell us what it means to have the option to now use distributive education?

A:  Previously, approximately half of the hours were required to be live hours with an instructor. Now they’re saying, we are giving you until June 30, 2020 to recertify, and you don’t need any live hours. At least, until they tell us otherwise.

Q:  Do you think this decision that allows distributive education helps improve access to education?

A: Given that people are working longer hours and being asked to do more, this decision offers a much more flexible solution for these people. This is especially true at a time when we are experiencing this unprecedented pandemic and demand for EMS professionals is at an all time high.

Q:  Had NREMT not extended the deadline for recertification, what potential consequences could you envision?

A: It would have only added to any shortages. The majority of EMS personnel have already renewed, but for those people who were on the fence, or willing to let their certifications expire, maybe those people will rethink their decision and keep their certifications.

Q:  Does Distance CME offer distributive education?

A: Yes, we do offer over 100 hours of distributive education. It’s very flexible and you can pick and choose between the different courses.

Scott McConnell on the NREMT Deadline

Now we get to finally share a few words from Distance CME Founder and Senior Channel Marketing Manager, Scott McConnell, RN, BSN, CEN, NRP, EMS-I, about the recent NREMT recertification deadline change. Here are a few questions for McConnell.

Q: What thoughts do you have about the decision made by NREMT to extend licensing deadlines at this critical time during the COVID-19 outbreak? 

A: I think extending the deadline was a smart move. The extension takes the pressure off of EMS professionals. There were only two weeks to go until 50 percent of all nationally registered providers would have had to recertify.

This extension enables people to concentrate on their own safety, family and, of course, the communities they serve. It also allows for the enactment of some staffing and protocol changes while we get a firmer understanding of how this plays out and the manufacturing arm of our great country catches up to the demand.

This year’s extension to push recertification deadlines until the end of June serves as a good example of what can happen if you wait until the last minute to finish your certification hours.

Anything can happen that might delay EMS professionals’ best intentions, such as coronavirus (COVID-19), making planning ahead paramount.

We recommend you start taking our classes in April each year for your next recertification. This will allow you to take one two-hour class a month. You can easily fit in all of your required education over two years this way without:

  • Changing your schedule
  • Taking time off work
  • Sitting in a regular classroom

Breaking your learning up into smaller segments will also help you better engage with our instructors and retain the information.

Q: Is there anything Distance CME would like to express to NREMT officials and it governance board?

A: I have reached out to the NREMT to inquire how continuing education providers can be stakeholders in these decisions. I’d like to see input from the states, medical directors, providers, educators and continuing education providers considered before changes occur. These types of decisions can influence and even alter the types of education we all provide.

We may be on the brink of a significantly different EMS system after this is all said and done. The most recent example we have is the Spanish Flu of 1910. EMS, however, was not in existence as we know it today.

Collaborating with various types of providers and educators to look ahead and start changes now will improve the EMS profession.

Want to learn more about distributive education offerings within the Distance CME education series? Click the link above to see what we have for you.