Four years ago, the paramedic education requisites changed, requiring all programs to be accredited for graduates to be eligible to take the national registry examinations. The IAFF believes this change from a voluntary standard to a mandatory standard ensures that students receive consistent and high quality education in their paramedic programs. This is accomplished by requiring educational programs to meet the accreditation standards set forth by the Board of Directors which includes two members from the IAFF to ensure the minimal national standards are achieved and maintained. No other level of EMS training meets a national standard.

With this change comes numerous misconceptions about the paramedic education program. That’s why the IAFF has scheduled a comprehensive session during the upcoming John P. Redmond Health and Safety Symposium/Dominick Barbera EMS Conference to help members better understand these changes and to separate fact from fiction. Following are some examples.

Fiction: Only colleges or universities can have an accredited paramedic program.

Fact: This is false. Fire-based academics, hospital-based training and even independent training organizations can provide this education.

Fiction:  The standards are too strict for a fire department to run a paramedic program.

Fact: This is false. The standards were developed to create a consistent and high quality educational environment, not as a means of reducing access to education or to bar organizations outside the academic setting from supporting their own programs.


Fiction: All instructors must have a Bachelor’s degree.

Fact: Only the program director must have a Bachelor’s degree at this time.


Fiction: It is too expensive to operate a department-based paramedic education program.

Fact: Determining whether it is cost-prohibitive to operate a paramedic training program can only be determined by each organization on a case-by-case basis.  There are costs associated with accreditation, as well as the day-to-day operational program expenses, but determining which model is most cost effective while delivering the best outcome requires internal analysis.


Fiction: If a fire department operates an educational program, students from outside of the department can’t attend.

Fact: Eligible students are at the discretion of the program. Having other students from outside the fire department can help lower the costs of the program.

We want our IAFF members to understand that the process is open. Resources and support are available from CoAEMSP and other departments that operate an accredited program.

At our Health, Safety and EMS Conference in Vancouver this August, instructors will address the first steps of the approval process for operating a paramedic training program, including receiving a Letter of Review from CoAEMSP to begin the process. For details on how to begin, visit The International Association of Fire Chiefs, NAEMT and the AAA are all partners in this effort.

Several IAFF affiliates have helped their fire departments implement fire-based accredited programs, including {Phoenix, AZ Local 493, Tacoma, WA Local 31, Memphis, TN Local 1784, Abilene, TX Local 1044 and Laredo, TX Local 872.

Register for our Redmond-EMS Conference and sign up for the Teaching Our Own: Building a Fire Department-Based Paramedic workshop on August 10 at 9:00 a.m.