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3 Critical Problems Facing First Responders + One Solution

Despite growing challenges in the EMS and fire industries, emergency responders can sharpen their skills, build competence, and improve outcomes by completing their training, recertifications, and emergency responder courses online with CareerCert.


As first responders, we knew signing up that we would face challenges above and beyond the typical job. Death, trauma, danger, increased risk and exposure—these are some of the experiences we face on a daily basis. In addition, technologies are evolving, knowledge is expanding, best practices are changing, and calls are increasing faster than ever before.

How can we keep up with these changes? How can we best prepare ourselves and our teams for the critical situations we face day in and day out?

CareerCert is here to help. Our company is made up of first responders, educators, and leaders who put your needs first. We know what you are experiencing, and we are creating solutions that allow emergency personnel and departments to thrive and improve outcomes through quality education that fits your needs and schedule.

Current Problems Emergency Responders Face

First responder on handling field emergencies

With first responder knowledge and technologies evolving at an exponential rate, traditional training is no longer enough: the fire and EMS industries need to change. Just as department safety equipment and tools continually improve, EMS and fire training, education, and preparation need continual refinement to combat the problems EMS and fire personnel face today and help us better protect and care for our teams and communities.

Some of these challenges include:

  • Accelerating changes in training and best practices amidst time constraints
  • Increased risk of burnout and behavioral or mental illness
  • Loss of knowledge and skill over time

Solving many of these issues long-term requires leaders, educators, first responders, and policymakers to come together to invest in finding solutions—something CareerCert is passionate about facilitating. In the short-term, departments and first responders can ameliorate many of these concerns by investing in innovative training and continuing education that improves outcomes, protects communities, and saves lives. That’s what all of us here at CareerCert aim to do.

Accelerating Changes in Training and Best Practices Amidst New Time Constraints

The EMS and fire industries are changing faster than ever before. The number of emergency calls fire departments receive has tripled in the last 30 years.1 That translates into fire departments in the US responding to a fire every 24 seconds.2 On top of that, fires today burn 8 times faster and produce 200 times the amount of smoke than fires from decades ago, meaning new technologies and training are always evolving.3

The rate of change is no easier for EMTs. In “Challenges and opportunities facing medical education,” Peter Densen, MD, estimates that in 2020, the world’s medical knowledge will double every 73 days.4 And with that growth of knowledge comes refined practices and procedures. Even while departments across the country are facing EMT and paramedic shortages,5 more calls are coming in than ever before. Every second, more than seven 9-1-1 calls are made in the United States.6

How can we stay on top of rapidly changing best practices and prepared for the next call when the calls are coming faster than ever before?

One way is continuing education and training agency solutions. But this cannot be a check-the-box style of education that meets the minimum requirements and moves on. We need current, innovative fire and EMS training that integrates the latest from emerging industry discussions and standards. We need variety and engagement— not the same, repetitive courses we first took 14 years ago.

Emergency responders need education options that are engaging, multimodal, and that adapts to our schedules and the reality of first responder life—which includes being prepared to answer whatever call whenever it comes our way. With CareerCert’s flexible online training and affordable agency solutions, emergency responders can find the industry-leading online training, support, and continued learning they’re looking for.

Increased Risk of Burnout and Behavioral or Mental Illness

Paramedic, Firefighter, and EMS Burnout

As first responders, you may often feel overworked and underappreciated. It’s little wonder that nearly half of all US firefighters are experiencing burnout and associated health problems7 and more than 60% of EMS personnel currently feel burned out.8

Burnout, when compounded with the stress we experience on the job, can lead to an increased risk of behavioral or mental illness. 80% of first responders report experiencing traumatic events on the job, and nearly 400,000 first responders in the US are suffering from PTSD symptoms.9 The attempted suicide rate among first responders is more than 10 times the rate of the general population.10

These are statistics we are well aware of—through education and lived experience. But we need to move beyond continuing education that raises awareness and take action by making changes that can save lives—those of our fellow brothers and sisters in the service.

EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters need continuing education that helps solve problems and find solutions—training that helps build resilience and provide the tools we need to transform our personal lives and departments.

There is hope; there is something we can do as firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, or department leaders to better protect ourselves and our team. Investing in continuing education, whether it’s fire CE or online EMS training, will improve your life, help you fight burnout, and allow you to recognize new growth and leadership opportunities within your department. The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation noted that continuing education engages learners in new growth, skills, and knowledge; integrates your understanding with your performance; generates professional satisfaction; validates competence; and helps you avoid burnout.11

CareerCert offers both the fire CE and EMS continuing education online needed to build your skillset and advance your career, as well as a variety of training and free resources to help you bolster your resilience and be at your best.

Loss of Knowledge and Skill Over Time

In addition to staying current on the latest education, best practices, and technologies, first responders are tasked with retaining all the detailed training we’ve gained over years of practice and experience. A study focusing on how much scientific knowledge healthcare professionals lose over time stated that “the evidence is consistent with the rule of thumb that after . . . one year, approximately one-third of the knowledge gain is lost, accumulating to slightly over one-half after a few years.”12

Continual training and education are crucial, especially for first responders who work in stressful conditions and make life-changing decisions. As Jason Haag, CCEMT-P, CIC, SFI, explains about the importance of persistent training, “In moments of high stress, the body’s heart rate increases, as does peripheral vasoconstriction. This causes a loss in fine motor movement. This leaves us to rely on muscle memory during stressful situations. This alone should be enough reason to not only prepare but train.”13

Training, practicing essential skills, and improving workplace safety cannot be checklist items or rote practices where we simply go through the motions. We need practical and applicable training that fits individual needs, department needs, and the needs of our communities. We need training that will keep our skills sharp and ready for when it counts. And that’s exactly what CareerCert aims to do.

Personal and Professional Training Solutions

Shift workers

So, where do we begin? How can we start to unravel these complicated problems? Thankfully, there is already a solution. CareerCert provides 320+ hours of training and continuing education that helps you not only recertify, stay compliant, and meet requirements but also helps you be at your best so you can give your best. We’re all about improving outcomes—in your communities and in your day-to-day lives.

Service-Focused Advocates

We are a team made up of first responders, educators, and fire and EMS leaders who know what you are going through because we’ve been there. That’s why we’ve designed a training management solution that fits your needs and schedule.

Our content is continually updated and presented by industry experts who are there to answer your questions. And our team will be with you to help every step of the way.

Relevant, Cutting-Edge Content

Over the past 25 years, we’ve helped tens of thousands of first responders stay certified and improve outcomes through quality fire and EMS training. We provide emergency responder courses online through virtual instructor-led training, scenario-based education, and self-paced courses that are engaging and designed to ensure you retain more and are prepared for the situations you will face in the field.

Realistic, Convenient Solutions

All of our education, from its content to its delivery, is built with your needs in mind.

With flexible and convenient options to work around your busy schedule, our training can be accessed anytime, from anywhere, and on any device, allowing you to easily fit it in during down-time or in-between shifts. Our platform will keep track of all your certifications, training, and CEs in one place, so you can avoid the headache of hunting down paperwork.

As Sonja Beck, vice president of Action Care Ambulance, noted about CareerCert, “CareerCert saves our department time and money by enabling us to provide quality continuing education to our staff, no matter where they are, while simplifying all the training documentation. I highly recommend CareerCert. It’s proven to be an amazing and user-friendly platform.”

Empowering Your Team

Fire & Emergency Responder Certification

Departments who invest in our continuing education experience improved outcomes, reduced error rates, and lower insurance claims. At CareerCert, we are focused on providing your team with the education they need to best protect and care for those you serve.

We offer specialized training solutions for departments that allow leaders and educators to easily track compliance; generate department reports; maintain seamless communication; and create, assign, and track your entire team’s training in one easy place.

Discover how your department can thrive with our comprehensive agency solutions to ensure better training and streamline your CEs with CareerCert.

Our Mission

CareerCert is revolutionizing medical and emergency training. We provide industry-leading online education that helps first responders receive the training they need when they need it. Our focus is keeping emergency responders and medical providers at their best so we can help reduce errors, improve outcomes, and protect our communities.

We offer a myriad of flexible, convenient, and affordable fire and EMS training as well as agency solutions customized to fit your needs. CareerCert is focused on helping EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, doctors, nurses, NEMTs, leaders, educators, and more find solutions that work with and for the heroes in our community. We know that when you are at your best, your patients are, too.

Improving outcomes begins with training. We’re here to help elevate your individual or department performance through cutting-edge online education, easy-to-use training management, and seamless tracking that allows you to see all of your certifications and CEs in one place. We’re here to simplify your life so you have more time to focus on the things—and people—that matter most.

To learn more about CareerCert, send us a message or give us a call today.


  1. Ahrens, M. Trends and patterns of U.S. fire losses. National Fire Protection Association Research. Jan 2017.
  2. National Fire Protection Association. News and research: US fire problem. https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/US-Fire-Problem.
  3. CTIF International Association of Fire and Rescue Services. 200 times more smoke and 8 times faster burning rate than 50 years ago. Feb 26, 2019. https://www.ctif.org/news/200-times-more-smoke-and-8-times-faster-burning-rate-50-years-ago.
  4. Densen P. Challenges and opportunities facing medical education. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2011;122:48–58.
  5. Edwards E. What if you call 911 and no one comes? Inside the collapse of America’s emergency medical services. NBC News. Oct 22, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-care/there-s-shortage-volunteer-ems-workers-ambulances-rural-america-n1068556.
  6. NENA The 911 Association. 9-1-1 Statistics. https://www.nena.org/page/911Statistics.
  7. Crist C. Burnout in firefighters linked to sleep issues, mental health concerns. Physician’s Weekly. Jun 27, 2019. https://www.physiciansweekly.com/burnout-in-firefighters-linked.
  8. Fowler RL, Gardener A, Robbins M, Rosenberger R. Burnout among EMS professionals: Incidence, assessment and management. Journal of Emergency Medical Services. Oct 29, 2019. https://www.jems.com/2019/10/29/burnout-among-ems-professionals-incidence-assessment-and-management/.
  9. Klimley, Kristin E.; Van Hasselt, Vincent B.; Stripling, Ashley M. (November 2018). “Posttraumatic stress disorder in police, firefighters, and emergency dispatchers.” Aggression and Violent Behavior. 43: 33–44. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2018.08.005. ISSN 1359-1789.
  10. Increasing suicide rates among first responders spark concern. March 19, 2017. Accessed January 6, 2020. https://www.firerescue1.com/fire-ems/articles/increasing-suicide-rates-among-first-responders-spark-concern-TkuBikGnO3vPHIb3/.
  11. Josiah Macy Foundation. “Lifelong learning in medicine and nursing.” American Association of Colleges of Nursing. 2010
  12. Custers E. Long-term retention of basic science knowledge: a review study. Adv in Health Sci Educ. (2010) 15:109–128. DOI 10.1007/s10459-008-9101-y.
  13. Haag, J. Mass casualty incidents: How to be prepared. Jan 21, 2020. https://careercert.com/blog/ems/mass-casualty-incidents-how-to-be-prepared/.
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