Online learning is becoming a popular training and organizational tool for EMS agencies. Learn why online learning should be your agency’s next investment.

Many people associate online learning with college courses but are unfamiliar with its applications outside of attaining a college degree. While online learning is a fast-growing training and organizational tool for a variety of businesses, it is particularly well-suited for emergency rescue given the nature of the job – which includes a heavy training requirement, regular policy updates and emergency responders working varied schedules around the clock.

Online learning management systems are highly flexible, accessible anywhere, offer a wide variety of content, and can streamline processes for the entire EMS agency.

Here are six reasons why you should consider implementing an online learning platform at your agency.


Online learning can replace or reduce in-person training costs by allowing training coordinators to assign pre-course work before a classroom session. Emergency responders can read policies or memos, as well as watch lecture videos before arriving to class lectures which can help improve the effectiveness of hands-on training.

For example, before bringing first responders into a training simulation, have them watch a video, assigned to them for completion in the learning management system, that introduces how the simulator works and read a training bulletin about the learning objectives for the simulation session. When personnel arrive, they can immediately receive the scenario briefing and begin the hands-on training experience, foregoing a lengthy lecture.

Further, online training is ideal for annual training updates, such as a bloodborne pathogens refresher, that often require hiring an outside trainer or assigning an employee to deliver bloodborne pathogens training throughout the organization. Either route is time and budget consuming. A bloodborne pathogens course, loaded into the online training system, can be used for several annual training cycles and completed by first responders without bringing them to a classroom or an instructor to them.

Additionally, by decreasing the amount of off-site training required, agencies can cut down
overtime costs as well as costs for travel and shift coverage during off-site training.


For most agencies, training is a burden because it’s not always accessible; First Responders need to travel to training, or an agency needs to coordinate with an in-person trainer. And apart from expenses, it’s often inconvenient.

With online learning, training is available anytime, anywhere on the following devices:

  • iPhone and Android powered smartphones
  • Desktop computers
  • iPads, Kindle Fires, and Android powered tablets

This 24/7 accessibility means that first responders can access the online training system – a knowledge base of courses, policies, and resources – to complete training while on shift, during downtime or even during their off time if allowed by their agency. Off-duty training is especially well-suited to part-time responders, volunteers or personnel who work at more than one agency.

Online learning also opens the doors to a newer concept called microlearning. Training doesn’t need to happen in only 1-hour, 4-hour or 8-hour increments. Fifteen minutes during briefings might be enough time to quickly update first responders on a policy revision or to view a short video on a feature update to the tracking software.

Unlike in-person training, online learning can be broken into smaller sessions that can be paused and restarted over multiple sittings.


According to Pew research, millennials are the largest cohort in the U.S. labor force. If your agency’s ratio of young first responders to veteran personnel hasn’t shifted yet, it soon will.

And millennials have different expectations from their employees than generations past.

Harvard Business Review released a study in 2017 about what millennials want in a work environment. The study spanned multiple industries, but the results were strongly focused on generation versus occupation. One of the primary outcomes was the millennials look for the opportunity to learn and grow within their occupation more than any previous generation.

Appealing to millennials’ desire for educational opportunities, through cutting-edge technology, is a great tool for recruitment and retention.

In addition to assigned courses, leverage the learning management system (LMS) vendor’s course library to offer optional or elective courses to all personnel. Promote the availability of these courses, especially to millennials, who want to continue learning on the job and broadening their skill set.


A combination of online training features like ease of use and high volumes of courses helps first responders with retraining and recertification.

Emergency responders have access to accredited courses that can be utilized more frequently than off-site or in-person training schedules allow. Digital time tracking means more training hours are counted, too. An online training system makes it easy to earn and document training hours for:

  • Attending shift briefings
  • Completing pre-course work before a hands-on training event
  • Documenting participation in an inter-agency training exercise like an active shooter response drill

How does your agency currently track these hours and apply it toward annual requirements?

Can you make the process stronger? When Door County EMS starting tracking their training with more efficiency and increased their volume of content through online learning, they noticed a better streamlined process for tracking training and credentials.


With online learning, training is tracked and progress is easily monitored by administrators, which means credentials are less likely to expire and compliance requirements are more easily adhered to.

In the event that a lawsuit arises, training records are subpoenaed or a regulatory audit occurs a training management system provides tracked, centralized documentation to report first responder agency-required credentials. This ability to track and grant credentials reduces liability.


As any training coordinator knows, training is a sound foundation for a first responder’s career, but continuing education beyond minimum requirements for these topics — and addressing a wider-breadth of issues — is imperative for a first responder’s overall effectiveness and on-the-job safety.

Finding an online solution provides your personnel access to these critical training topics, as well as topics more specifically related to your community.

For example, if the opioid epidemic is currently plaguing your jurisdiction, online learning tools can provide your agency continuous access and up-to-date education to help keep your first responders safe and effectively responding to overdoses and investigating narcotics trafficking.

When Tipp City EMS implemented a better training program, it not only helped retain their EMS personnel because they felt more equipped to handle their job, but their training coordinator described how improved training about safer emergency response saved their lives.

Learn how EMS1 Academy can help your department.

For more information on EMS1 Academy, click here to schedule a demo, email our Customer Success Team or call 800.671.9411 to speak with one of our EMS1 Academy representatives.

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