First Responder Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1) How do I become a First Responder in Wisconsin?

All Wisconsin Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers must obtain their initial education at an approved Wisconsin EMS training center. You can contact your local EMS training center for First Responder course availability information.

2) What are the steps to obtain Wisconsin First Responder certification?
  • If you do not have an established E-Licensing account, you will need to create an account (PDF, 2.4 MB) in the E-Licensing system.
  • You will need successful completion of a Wisconsin First Responder educational course at an approved Wisconsin EMS training center. You must obtain your initial first responder provider certification within 24 months of successfully completing the first responder course.  You will apply for your First Responder certification in your E-Licensing  account, by completing an EMS Initial License application.
  • You will need to have and maintain a current Healthcare Provider CPR card as long as you hold a valid First Responder certification
  • You will need successful completion of the NREMT exams at the First Responder level.
  • Your application will be reviewed by the Wisconsin EMS Office for processing.  You will be contacted if there are any issues that need additional documentation to support the application.
  • After your application has been reviewed, your application gets approved. You can print your First Responder license from your E-Licensing  account.
  • You will need to complete the Local Credential Agreement (LCA) for the service(s) you wish to be affiliated with in your E-Licensing account. After both the Service Director and Medical Director approve the LCA, you will be added to the service's roster.
3) What is a First Responder License and why do I need one?

Nearly every profession certifies or licenses its members in some way; a prime example is prehospital emergency medicine. Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 110 outlines the requirements for issuing each level of certification/licensure.  Certification as a First Responder is a privilege, and verifies that the holder has met minimal competencies and, if credentialed (affiliated) with an emergency medical service (EMS) provider, authorizes that individual to provide medical care under medical direction.

It is the individual’s responsibility to complete the application process and to verify that he or she holds the appropriate Wisconsin certification.  The Wisconsin certificate expires on June 30 of every even-numbered year. Your initial certification will be valid for the remainder of the current biennium you complete your education in. Thereafter, the license will be valid for two years and must be renewed each biennium prior to the expiration date. Continuing educational refresher courses are required under Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 110.07.

4) What is a local credentialing agreement?

A local credentialing agreement is a written authorization by the service director and the medical director of a licensed emergency medical services provider permitting a certified first responder to perform specified emergency medical care while in the service of the provider.

Once your LCA is complete, which means that both the Service Director and the Medical Director approve the LCA, you will be added to the service's roster. Contact your Service Director and Medical Director once you complete the LCA. This is a real-time process and can be completed as quickly as needed at the local level from your E-Licensing account.

5) Why do Wisconsin First Responders take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam for a Wisconsin First Responder license?

The NREMT exam is a requirement for all Wisconsin EMS personnel for initial certification or licensure and is a requirement of DHS 110.06 (1) (d) since January 1, 2011. Certification by the National Registry identifies, for the public, state licensure agencies and employers, those individuals who have successfully completed the Registry’s educational requirements and demonstrated their skills and abilities in the mandated examinations.

6) I was a Wisconsin licensed First Responder before January 1, 2011. Do I have to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam to keep my Wisconsin First Responder license?

No, the NREMT is an initial requirement for certification in DHS 110.06 (1) (d) since January 1, 2011. You are not required to maintain your NREMT status in Wisconsin for renewal of your certification or licensure.

7) I have completed a First Responder initial course at my local Wisconsin technical college. Can I respond to 911 calls with my service?

No, not until you have completed the steps outlined in the answer to question 2.

8) I have a Wisconsin First Responder license. Can I respond to 911 calls with my service?

No, not until you complete the Local Credential Agreement (LCA) for the service you wish to be affiliated with in your E-Licensing account. After both the Service Director and Medical Director approve the LCA, you will be added to the service's roster and can respond to 911 calls with the service.

9) What is the Wisconsin Ambulance Run Data System (WARDS)?

The Wisconsin Division of Public Health has a secure, web-based reporting system called the Wisconsin Ambulance Run Data System (WARDS). Using WARDS, all EMS providers are able to enter and submit their patient care report information electronically via the Internet. This web-based program is available at no charge to Wisconsin EMS service providers.

10) I am a licensed Wisconsin First Responder credentialed with a licensed Wisconsin First Responder service. Do we use the Wisconsin Ambulance Run Data System (WARDS) for our responses to patients?

Administrative Rule requires First Responder services to complete run reports for any calls where an advanced skill was used. It does not require all calls be reported, but your service can do so if it prefers to document all runs. Please consider drafting your own local policy or procedure for entering reports into WARDS.

11) Our service is licensed as a First Responder service in Wisconsin. What are the advanced skills that we can use in our service?

The Wisconsin EMS Scope of Practice for First Responder (PDF, 43 KB) defines the procedures, actions and processes that are permitted for the licensed individual. This is the document that lists the allowed advanced skills that a first responder may use if the service has been educated in the advanced skills, has demonstrated competency, and has been approved by the Department of Health Services.

12) I have been a First Responder and now want to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). How do I become an EMT in Wisconsin?
  • You will need successful completion of a Wisconsin Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) educational course at an approved Wisconsin EMS training center. You must obtain your initial EMT provider license within 24 months of successfully completing the EMT course.  You will apply in your E-Licensing account by completing an upgrade application.
  • You will need to have and maintain a current Healthcare Provider CPR card.
  • You will need successful completion of the NREMT exams at the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) level.
  • Your application will be reviewed by the Wisconsin EMS Office for processing.
  • Once your application is approved, you can print your EMT license from your E-Licensing  account.
  • You will need to complete the Local Credential Agreement (LCA) for the service you wish to be affiliated with in your E-Licensing account. After both the Service Director and Medical Director approve the LCA, you will be added to the service's roster.
13) I am a licensed First Responder in Wisconsin. I am enrolled in an EMT Basic course at a Wisconsin-approved EMS training center. Do I have to apply for an EMS Training Center Training Permit?

Yes. All EMS students must hold a valid training center training permit if the EMS course requires clinical training and provides a clinical setting for educational experiences at a hospital or other health care facility. You can log into your E-Licensing  account and complete the EMS Training Center Training Permit.

14) I am a licensed First Responder in Wisconsin. I am enrolled in an EMT Basic course at a Wisconsin-approved EMS training center. Do I have to apply for an EMT Basic Training Permit to participate as a member of the legal crew for my EMT Basic service?

Yes.  This training permit is required to become part of a legal crew on an ambulance service licensed at the Basic level. This is described in DHS 110.50(1) (a).  If the service is licensed above the level of EMT-Basic, this option is not available to the individual. It is an application that is between the individual provider, the service director, and the medical director. The EMT-Basic Training Permit (ONLY FOR PART OF A LICENSED EMT-BASIC SERVICE) application is found in the E-Licensing System under "Apply for a License."

Last Revised: March 13, 2015