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Frequently Asked Questions

The Contra Costa Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agency welcomes comments and concerns about EMS medical issues. Your input helps improve our system.

EMT Questions
Paramedic Questions
General Questions
  • EMT Questions

    1. I am certified in California as well as through the NREMT. Do I have to certify these separately or is my NREMT automatically recertified when I certify my state cert?

      Your California certification and the NREMT certification are two separate processes. California uses the NREMT exam process to qualify an EMT candidate for certification in California. Once you have obtained your California certification, there is no requirement for you to maintain your NREMT certification. However, if you ever plan to move out of California and function as an EMT, it is strongly recommend that you consider maintaining your NREMT certification. Generally, it's much easier to maintain that certificate than it is to acquire it once you have let it lapse.

    2. The due dates between NREMT and California are very confusing to me. If my California EMT certification expires on September 30, when am I required to have my paperwork in to you?

      Your California certification allows you to function as an EMT in the State of California. If your current certification expires on September 30, so you would need to complete the recertification process prior to that date. You can find the requirements for recertification on our website at You may submit your recertification paperwork at any time in the six month period prior to your expiration date - be advised it can take up to 30 days to complete processing of your recertification application. If you are currently working as an EMT, you will not be able to continue to do so if you let your certification expire.

      You should contact the National Registry of EMTs for information about renewing your NREMT certification.

    3. Where can I obtain emergency medical technician training?

      A listing of programs in Contra Costa County is located at For a listing of programs throughout the State, please visit

    4. If I got my EMT certification from another county and I am now working in Contra Costa County, do I need to be certified in Contra Costa County?

      No, an EMT certification is good Statewide and there is no need to register in Contra Costa County.

    5. Do I have to do a background check?

      A background check is required the first time you certify with Contra Costa EMS or if your certification has expired for more than twelve (12) months. You do not need to do a new background check when you renew a certification that was issue by Contra Costa EMS.

    6. Can I use the background check I did for my ambulance driver's license for EMT certification?

      No, the Department of Justice will not share the information. You will need to do a background check for each.

    7. Do I have to have an ambulance driver's license to get my EMT certification?

      No, they are separate processes.

    8. How long does it take to get my EMT certification once I have turned in the required paperwork?

      The process may take up to thirty (30) days to complete. Delays in a response from the Department of Justice may extend that time period.

    9. Does my EMT course completion certificate mean I am certified as an EMT in California?

      No. You must bring your course completion certificate and any other required documentation to a local EMS Agency to complete the certification process.

    10. How often do I have to take the written and skills exams to maintain my EMT certification?

      There is no on-going testing requirement as long as your certification has not lapsed for more than 12 months. Continuing education hours and skills verification is required every two years for recertification.

    11. Is my certification valid throughout the state?

      Yes. Any EMT certification issued in California is valid throughout the state.

    12. Is there a "grace period" for renewing my EMT certification?

      No. You may not function as an EMT once your certification has expired. You have two (2) years from the date of expiration to complete the certification process without repeating the full EMT training program.

    13. What is "certification" testing?

      Certification testing is required by state regulation to be eligible for certification as an EMT in California [Title 22, Div 9, Chap 22, Art 4, section 100079(a)(3)]. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians EMT-Basic exam is the approved certification exam.

    14. Do the final written and skills exams I took through my EMT training program count as the certification exam?

      Your training program skills exam is accepted as the practical portion of the National Registry exam. You will need to complete the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians written exam, in addition to the training program final written exam.

    15. How long does the fingerprint background check process take?

      The time varies depending on a number of factors. There may be a delay in getting an appointment to be "rolled" (have your fingerprints taken). Once the Department of Justice receives the information, there may be delays depending on whether you have a criminal record or if the DOJ is unable to read the prints submitted. In addition, the DOJ may have internal delays related to work load. Currently, the EMS Agency is experiencing turnaround times that vary between same-day and 4 months. At this time, there is no way to predict how long it will take.

      The majority of records are sent to us within 3-5 working days, but there is no guarantee of that. It is advised that you do the background check early if you rely on your EMT certification for any reason.

    16. May I use college courses to fulfill the continuing education requirement for EMT renewal?

      Yes. You may use college courses in physical, social or behavioral sciences (e.g., anatomy, physiology, sociology, psychology) for continuing education hours (CEHs) for your EMT renewal if the courses were completed during your recertification cycle. 10 CEHs will be awarded for each academic quarter unit or 15 CEHs will be awarded for each academic semester unit for. (Tit. 22, § 100390.4(a)(d)).

  • Paramedic Questions

    What do I need to submit to maintain my paramedic accreditation in Contra Costa County?

    A copy of your new California paramedic license, current ACLS card, skills verification form (PDF) and an updated application (PDF).

    How long is my paramedic accreditation valid?

    Your accreditation runs concurrent with your license, so when your license expires, your accreditation also expires.

    Is there a cost for my paramedic accreditation?

    There is a $60 application fee for accreditation for non-county employees. There is no re-accreditation fee unless you let your accreditation lapse.

  • General Questions

    How do I know if a course is offering continuing education credit for prehospital personnel?

    The course provider must issue a certificate with their California Prehospital Continuing Education provider number and the number of hours for which the course is approved. CME and BRN numbers/hours are not valid for EMT or paramedic continuing education. (approved Contra Costa CE providers)

Contra Costa EMS
777 Arnold Drive, Suite 110
Martinez, CA 94553
Office Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
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