It is difficult to become a state-licensed emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic in Los Angeles County. You'd have to attend college for 1 – 3 years and pass the certification exams. You are also required to be physically fit and mentally alert and undergo vigorous and extensive hands-on professional training programs.
Additionally, you will go through an expensive, complex, and tedious process to obtain a state-issued license. If you are less motivated or not up to the task, you can easily give up your dream of becoming a state-licensed EMT or paramedic.
Unfortunately, it is much easier to lose your professional license. All it takes is for someone to lodge a complaint with the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA). Then, the EMSA will initiate disciplinary proceedings against you.
According to the EMSA, numerous possible violations can result in disciplinary action. As a paramedic or an EMT, you are expected to provide the highest standard of care in the most chaotic situations. Your primary mission is to save lives during medical emergencies. Each decision you make binds you ethically and legally.
You are also expected to conduct your private affairs in a particular manner. For instance, as an EMT or a paramedic, you should not be caught driving under the influence or soliciting sex for money. If you do so, you may lose your professional license, besides facing criminal proceedings.
We at The Legal Guardian understand how much struggle you went through to obtain your professional license. We also know how easily you can lose it. This is why we are willing to help you safeguard your professional license.
Your license is your primary source of livelihood. Do not accept losing it without a fight. We provide aggressive legal representation to EMTs and paramedics who are at risk of losing their licenses. Contact us to learn more about our services.
Becoming a State Licensed Paramedic/EMT
According to the US Bureau of Labor, the State of California has employed the highest number of EMTs. To become an EMT in California, you must first obtain a High School Diploma. Then, you must enroll in an EMT training program, which usually takes two years. After completing the program, you should sit for and pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification and the California EMT certification tests. Only after you've passed these tests can you apply for a state license with the EMSA.
To become a paramedic in California, you must first qualify as an EMT. This means that you must first obtain an EMT license before enrolling in a paramedic training program. Additionally, the training program you’ve selected may require you to have other certifications, such as:
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) Certification
- Anatomy and Physiology Certification
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification
Paramedic training programs are more intensive, time-consuming, and costly than EMT training programs. This is because paramedics perform more complex and advanced medical procedures, in comparison to EMTs. To receive an EMT certification, you will be expected to complete 120 – 150 training hours. On the other hand, you must complete 1,200 – 1,800 hours of training to be eligible for the paramedic certification exams. These exams include the NREMT paramedic exam and the National Registry Paramedic Cognitive Exam. Once you’ve passed the certification exams, you can apply for a California state license with the EMSA.
To complete an EMT/paramedic training program, you may spend between $1,000 - $10,000. When applying for a state license, you will be expected to pay an application fee of approximately $250.
You will also have to submit your fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the California Department of Justice (DOJ). These two organizations will use your fingerprints to check your criminal history. You may not be eligible for receiving a state license if you have a criminal record.
Generally, it is challenging to become a state-certified EMT/paramedic. The process for passing the certification exams and applying for a state license is time-consuming and costly.
Unfortunately, you can easily lose your professional license after you’ve acquired it. If you are at risk of losing your license, it would be best to try out all possible means to save it. Of course, you don't want all the time and money you’ve spent acquiring the license to go down the drain.
The Crucial Role Played by EMTs and Paramedics
Most medical emergencies occur suddenly. They also happen in the most chaotic situations. This is where EMTs and paramedics come in.
Paramedics and EMTs are the first responders to any medical emergencies. When a medical emergency arises, EMTs and paramedics are expected to rush to the scene, perform basic first aid procedures, and liaise with other health professionals to ensure the patient is well cared for.
Typically, EMTs and paramedics in Los Angeles are taken for granted. Very few people appreciate them for the crucial roles they play during medical emergencies.
As an EMT or a paramedic, every decision, procedure, or step you take during emergencies binds you legally and ethically. You will be held liable if there is any evidence showing that you acted unethically. This means that your work must always be error-free, a feat that is impossible to achieve.
You must also respond to medical emergencies as quickly as possible. If you delay, you may face civil lawsuits and criminal charges, which can make you lose your license.
You are also expected to continuously update yourself on any new laws, medicines, and procedures that may arise. If you don't, you may become the subject of a complaint involving incompetence.
While attending to patients, you put yourself at risk. You never know when someone will file a complaint against you and make you lose your source of livelihood.
Furthermore, many people do not know that paramedics and EMTs play distinct roles. The primary responsibility of EMTs is to assist doctors and paramedics during medical emergencies. EMTs cannot perform certain types of surgeries and medical procedures. Often, this may result in accusations for failing to act when, in fact, the EMT did the best he/she could do to salvage the situation.
Paramedics can perform complex medical procedures and invasive surgeries. EMTs are limited to only observing vital signs, providing life support, interviewing victims, transporting victims to the hospital, and reporting their actions and assessments to doctors, who will pick up from where they left off. Additionally, EMTs are often employed in local fire and police departments.
We at The Legal Guardian understand the crucial role played by EMTs and paramedics. We know that the public can lodge numerous complaints against them in different situations.
In most cases, EMTs and paramedics do their very best to save lives during medical emergencies. Unfortunately, their efforts are generally unappreciated, and they can easily become the subject of numerous allegations for ethical violations.
Regardless of the mistake that you made or the addiction problem you have, you should still keep your license. We are willing to help you defend it. We respect what you do, and we believe that you should continue serving our community and keeping all of us safe.
Common Complaints against EMTs and Paramedics
Each year, hundreds of complaints are filed against EMTs and paramedics in Los Angeles. The most common complaints include:
- Criminal allegations
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Sexual misconduct
- Abuse or mistreatment of patients
- Performing medical procedures outside the level of expertise
- Confidentiality violations
- Gross negligence
Let us discuss each of these complaints briefly:
When applying for an EMT or a paramedic state license, you must submit fingerprints to the DOJ and the FBI. This means that one of the reasons why you received your license was because you did not have a criminal record.
No one plans on being arrested. But, if you are arrested, the Los Angeles Police Department will notify the EMSA. Then, the EMSA will initiate disciplinary proceedings against you, which can make you lose your license. Note that you will still be at risk of losing your license even if you do not become convicted of the offense you were arrested for.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
EMTs and paramedics are the first responders to emergency medical situations. Often, these situations are chaotic. Therefore, they should be completely sober so that they can make proper decisions during these emergencies.
An EMT or a paramedic who has an alcohol/drug addiction problem is at a high risk of losing his/her license. This is because he/she is more prone to making mistakes when attending to patients.
You may have acquired the EMT/paramedic license fraudulently. For instance, you may have lied about your qualifications. In this situation, you will easily lose your license if the complainant has sufficient evidence to show that you do not have the required qualifications for an EMT/paramedic.
Moreover, your coworkers or employers can lodge this complaint against you if you engage in fraudulent activities at your workplace, such as prescription drug switching and misrepresenting a diagnosis. Note that fraud is considered a crime, and you may also find yourself facing criminal charges.
One of your patients may file a complaint against you for sexual misconduct. The term ‘sexual misconduct’ refers to any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature committed by force, manipulation, coercion, or intimidation, such as exposure of private parts, streaking, and constant pleas for sexual intercourse.
You will most likely be accused of sexual misconduct if you intend to enter into an intimate relationship with one of your patients, regardless of how innocent your intentions are. One of the best defense strategies that you can use when accused of sexual misconduct is that the victim had given his/her consent.
Abuse/Mistreatment of Patients
You may be having a hectic work schedule. As a result, you may unintentionally forget attending to your patients, including supplying them with the required medications and food. Unfortunately, this may subject you to disciplinary action by the EMSA.
You will most likely lose your license if the complainant shows that he/she suffered gravely due to your actions. For example, the complainant can demonstrate that his/her medical condition became more severe.
Performing Medical Procedures outside the Level of Expertise
As an EMT or paramedic, there are specific medical procedures that you are restricted from performing. However, during emergency medical situations, you may be tempted to conduct these procedures to save the patient’s life.
In most cases, you will not obtain a positive outcome, regardless of the effort you put towards saving the patient’s life. No one will appreciate you for what you’ve done. In fact, your actions may become the subject of a disciplinary hearing.
As an EMT/paramedic, you should not disclose the patient’s medical records to a third party without his/her consent. If you do so, you may find yourself facing a disciplinary hearing at the EMSA.
The duty of confidentiality continues even after the patient recovers or dies. Besides the EMSA disciplinary hearing, you may also be sued in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
This is the most common type of complaint filed against EMTs and paramedics. EMTs and paramedics have a legal obligation to provide the highest standard of care to their patients.
There are no clear guidelines that stipulate the level of the expected standard of care. As a result, numerous complaints are lodged against EMTs and paramedics. The EMSA can hold them negligent if there is evidence to show that they did not provide the expected standard of care.
The EMSA Disciplinary Process
When someone complains about you to the EMSA, you will be notified about it. In most cases, EMTs and paramedics start panicking as soon as they are informed that someone has filed an allegation against them. Some of them will not do anything to defend themselves, and instead, leave everything to fate, believing that their career will end.
The truth is that not all complaints lodged at the EMSA can be career-ending. When the EMSA receives the complaint, it will first conduct an investigation. It may send investigation officers to your workplace, who will analyze how you perform your duties. These officers may also comprehensively interrogate your employers and the complainant.
The investigation officers can also attempt to question you about the alleged violation. Please do not make a mistake of responding to their queries without consulting a professional license attorney. This is because you may unknowingly incriminate yourself.
The investigation's primary goal is to find out whether or not the complaint lodged against you is viable. Sometimes, there may be little evidence to show that you acted unethically. In this situation, the EMSA will stop the disciplinary process. If you hire a professional license attorney much earlier, he/she may stop the investigation process altogether by convincing the EMSA that the complaint lodged against you was unfounded and baseless.
If the investigating officer believes that the complaint lodged against you was viable, you will receive a notice inviting you to attend a disciplinary hearing. The complainant will present his/her case before the hearing officer. Then, you will be allowed to defend yourself.
After you've defended yourself, the hearing officer will determine whether you committed the alleged violation. If this officer is convinced that you committed the violation, he/she will subject you to disciplinary action.
Possible EMSA Disciplinary Actions
The least serious form of disciplinary action you can receive is a citation, usually accompanied by a fine. The amount of the fine may range between $250 - $2,500. You will have to pay this fine within 60 days from when it was imposed. If you are facing financial difficulties, your attorney can negotiate for this payment period to be extended for up to 12 months.
You can also be placed on probation. The probation period may last for a couple of months or up to five years. The hearing officer may impose certain probationary conditions, which you will be expected to observe. One of these conditions could be to let the EMSA officers inspect your work records frequently.
Your attorney can help you negotiate the probationary terms. He/she can also convince the hearing officer to reduce them. Moreover, your lawyer will help you understand the probation terms and what can be a potential violation.
Even though citations, fines, and probation are less lenient penalties, it is still worthwhile to fight them. This is because they will reflect on your professional work history, and potential employers will be able to view them.
Finally, revocation or a suspension of your license is the most severe penalty you can face. If you hire an experienced license attorney, he/she can help you avoid it, regardless of the magnitude of the alleged violation.
Contact a Los Angeles Paramedic/EMT License Attorney Near Me
We at The Legal Guardian have helped many EMTs and paramedics facing disciplinary proceedings safeguard their licenses. We can help you too. Call us today at 888-293-0396 for a free consultation.