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Thread: Wildland EMT

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003

    Question Wildland EMT

    I am looking to get into wilderness firefighting, but I would love to get in on the wilderness medical crew side of it...but it has been nearly impossible to find any information. I know that most contractors and Government organizations require S130/190 and a few specialized medical classes, all of which I either have or will have soon, but I cant even find a place to apply for a job. If anyone knows anything (or even can make it sound like they do), please let me know because my time is rapidly running out.


  2. #2
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Frenchtown, MT, USA


    I hate to rain on your parade, being a line EMT is one of the best jobs on a fire, but I think you need to review some of the provisions of your EMT certification, and have some discussions with your medical director, before you spend a lot of time looking for a position as an EMT outside your state. If that doesn't slow you down, you might check the NIFC website for contacts. The Missoula Smokejumpers have a couple of Incident Medical Teams and someone there may be able to point you in the right direction for your area.

    You have touched on a subject I think the wildland fire community has got some serious problems with due to the nature of the law in this area. You may not be aware of it, but your EMT certification is valid only in your state, and in some states only in your legal jurisdiction. EMTs that are dispatched to other states to work on fires as an employed line EMT or as a member of an Incident Medical Team are hanging their financial butts out in the wind in terms of legal liability that the government will not back you up on if there is a problem. Also remember since you are being employed in this position, most state's "good samaritan" laws don't apply.

    I have heard all the arguments about how they are working in a Federal system on a Federal incident on Federal lands following accepted Federal protocols that allow work in this area. However, at least one state strongly disagrees and has taken a proactive approach to preventing their EMTs from becoming a liability to the state that certifies them. Over the last couple of years the Department of Commerce, Board of Medical Examiners for the state of Montana, the body that that issues EMT certifications in MT, informed the medical teams based out of the state that if they catch any of their Montana certified EMTs practicing outside the state they will have their certifications revoked. I have not heard or seen anything since that letter was issued so I do not know if they have worked that out or not.

    State protocols for what an EMT (B, I or P) may do can vary drastically from state to state. Even doctors that cross state lines must have their credentials reviewed and formally accepted by all states they practice in. While the NREMT is working in the direction of universal acceptance, no state that I am aware of automatically recognizes another states certification when it comes to being employed in that state as an EMT, without a lot of paperwork. The existing systems in place do not lend themselves to the 2 week assignment of a line EMT.

    It is a good position, especially if you like bandaging blisters on smelly feet and dispensing drugs, but the liability issues of an informed EMT are overwhelming.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by MTFires; 03-19-2003 at 12:00 PM.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Oct 2002

    Default Line EMT

    There is a problem with crossing state lines and practicing without the home state's blessing. I took a Medical Unit leader course in Albuquereque and they did not have a definitive answer. It was like don't ask don't tell. The best way is to get certified in multiple states. Good luck

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    May 2002
    St. Louis Area


    To improve your skills I suggest http://www.wildmed.com/main.html
    MTFires has it on the Mark. Take the NREMT and found out what states require what from you. I know there are 3 states which donít automatically accept the NREMT in exchange for their own state license.

  5. #5
    Forum Member hageremtp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000


    Incident Medical Specialist

    I went out as a paramedic on an IMS team for a year, lots of fun...even less work! Hope this helps you out!
    D. Hager

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