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Preparing the EMS Workforce

Effective EMS systems depend on a stable, supported and well-trained workforce. To meet this need, NHTSA’s Office of EMS supports workforce research and develops resources designed for EMS clinicians.

We also engage with our Federal partners and a variety of stakeholders in programs designed to enhance the health and safety of the EMS workforce. Federal, State and local partners use NHTSA’s research to improve injury surveillance and help maintain a healthy EMS workforce.

In keeping with strategic goals set forth by the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS), we support efforts to enhance interstate recognition and reciprocity of EMS personnel, and are working with State EMS offices to support the transition of military EMS personnel to civilian practice.

Training and Education

EMS education is necessary to develop personnel who deliver a high standard of prehospital health care. The Emergency Medical Service Workforce Agenda for the Future has the objective of improving the efficiency of the national EMS education process, with a focus on five interconnected components:

The EMS Education Agenda further calls for all states to adopt National EMS Certification as the basis for EMS licensure, as well as national accreditation of all EMS education programs. Such adoption will enhance interstate recognition and reciprocity of EMS personnel, as well as consistency around research-based practices.


Safety is a top concern when preparing the EMS workforce, especially given the physical risks involved in the profession. Developing a culture of safety within the EMS community requires effort in the areas of injury prevention, violence prevention, Traffic Incident Management (TIM) and Fighting Fatigue in EMS.

The partnership between the NHTSA and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) makes it possible to collect representative data about line-of-duty injuries within EMS. In turn, this data leads to actionable insights. Initiatives to promote safety for EMS providers, such as advancements in ambulance safety or improvements to injury surveillance, are designed to mitigate risks to the EMS workforce.

Mental Health and Wellness

Beyond physical health and safety, mental health and wellness are priorities for the EMS workforce. The nature of EMS work can be as challenging psychologically as it is physically. Supporting the mental health of EMS clinicians is a critical part of fostering an overall culture of wellness.

The NHTSA Office of EMS has partnered with the CDC and NIOSH to better understand first responder mental health and suicide. The purpose of this partnership is to evaluate the problem and invest wisely in countermeasures.

Last Updated: 10/18/2023