EMR vs. EMT: What’s the Difference?

Working in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is a hard but rewarding career. However, when you’re starting out, choosing your qualifications and career path is a hard decision. After all, how do you know if becoming an EMR or an EMT is the right choice for you?

Discover what an EMR and EMT do, what the differences are, and how you can get qualifications in both of them.

EMR Qualifications and Skills

EMR is short for Emergency Medical Responder. Formerly, the name of this position was Medical Response Technician (MRT).

EMRs arrive at the scene of a vehicle collision, birthing, heart attack, trauma, or other emergencies to perform possibly life-saving medical intervention. They provide life-saving emergency care with minimal equipment. EMRs are qualified to perform CPR.


An EMR only needs a First Responder certification. This includes basic first aid skills, including CPR. This course usually takes around 55-65 hours from start to finish.

Typically, first responders, such as firefighters or police officers, receive an EMR certification.

EMT Qualifications and Skills

EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) receive approximately double the hours of training as EMRs do. An EMT course generally takes 120 hours.

EMTs aren’t just qualified to provide first aid. They can also provide emergency medication. Their training in transport, assessment, and stabilization allows them to get a patient from the scene of the emergency to the hospital.

EMTs are trained in practical emergency medical knowledge and skills. Local medical policies and national guidelines aid EMTs in patient treatment.

The goal of an EMT is to rapidly evaluate the condition of the patient and maintain their breathing and circulation (by CPR and defibrillation) until they’re transported to a hospital. 

Controlling external bleeding and preventing further injury or disability while transporting the patient for more extensive medical care is the daily part of an EMTs job.

Generally, every ambulance needs at least one qualified EMT to be present.

There are various levels of EMT certifications. Each one provides different training to provide more advanced medical care. If an EMT wants to take on more qualifications, they can study to become an Advanced EMT (AEMT) or a paramedic.

Both EMRs and EMTs need to complete qualifications.

The Main Difference Between EMR vs. EMT

EMR and EMT are the first two levels out of three different qualifications of Emergency Medical Services.

  • Emergency Medical Responder (EMR)
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
  • Paramedic

Apart from a longer training time, the biggest difference between EMR and EMT professionals is that EMTs can transport patients.

Giving patients medication before they get to the hospital can save their lives as well. While EMTs are authorized to do that, EMRs are not.

Which Path of EMS Should You Choose?

While you don’t need an EMR qualification to start an EMT course, you do need to be an EMT before you take a paramedic course.

So, if you’d like to become an EMT or a paramedic, doing the EMT qualification and getting work experience in an ambulance is crucial.

However, if you don’t have the time commitment necessary to train to become an EMT right now, an EMR course may be the better option for you.

If you’re interested in working in EMS, but you’re not sure which branch is the right fit for you, taking an EMR course lets you jump-start your career and start saving lives as soon as possible.

And if you’re aiming to become a firefighter or a police officer, learning first aid will definitely be useful.

Regardless of the path you choose, working in the Emergency Medical field is a highly rewarding career. You get to save lives, make others feel safe. 

Take a Course to Become an EMR or an EMT in Chicago

Getting an EMR or an EMT certification takes time, effort, and a drive to serve in the emergency services field.

If you’re based in Chicago, don’t hesitate to begin your course in EMR or EMT services with Elite Ambulance.

Our Emergency Medical Services Courses prepare you for everything you need to expect, and give you the practical skills to successfully take care of patients.

Build a career and save lives by signing up for an EMS course with Elite Ambulance!

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