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EMT Background Check: A Complete Guide [2022]

emt background check

When conducted properly, EMT background checks can protect your organization, patients, and current employees. This article outlines what you need to know.

If your healthcare organization is searching for qualified emergency medical technicians (EMTs), including paramedics, it’s important to include background checks in your hiring process.

Did you know that a Massachusetts EMT was charged with fentanyl tampering after she replaced the contents of three fentanyl vials at her ambulance service with saline?

An EMT background check protects the vulnerable patients you serve, the public, your employees, and your organization.

Based on our experience performing background checks for healthcare organizations across the nation, we’ve written this guide as a resource for employers.

Let’s get started.

What is an EMT Background Check?

EMT background checks confirm if applicants have the necessary qualifications to properly perform their jobs.

A background check also reveals any red flags such as drug abuse, disqualifying criminal convictions, patient abuse, or thefts.

People’s lives often depend on the swift and competent care provided by EMTs who typically perform the following duties:

  • Respond to 911 calls and provide emergency medical care to injured or seriously ill patients
  • Initially assess the patient’s condition and provide stabilizing care
  • Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid to critically ill or injured patients
  • Safely transport patients to hospitals in ambulances

Conducting background checks on every EMT applicant can protect the safety and wellbeing of your patients and your organization from reputational harm and liability.

What Shows up on an EMT Background Check?

The EMT background check requirements you might have will depend on your organization and the state in which you operate.

Because of their direct patient contact while transporting vulnerable, critically injured, or ill people, EMT background checks tend to be more comprehensive than those performed on people who apply for other types of jobs.

What might show up on an EMT background check will depend on your state and organization.

Some ambulance companies and other healthcare organizations request searches of the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE) from the Health of Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

If you hire an applicant who is listed in the LEIE database, your organization could face significant penalties.

Some organizations also perform checks through the System of Awards Management (SAM). This federal database is used to check whether an applicant is debarred or suspended from contracting with Medicare.

A Fraud Abuse Control Information System (FACIS) search might also be important.

A FACIS check searches a system of regularly updated databases to confirm that applicants have not committed fraud against the government or acts of abuse against patients for whom they have provided care.

FACIS checks can be divided into the following three levels:

  • Level 1 – Checks federal Tricare, Medicare, OIG, OFAC-SDN, FDA, and DEA databases and Medicaid and state debarment sanctions
  • Level 2 – Performs all Level 1 searches plus some additional state sources
  • Level 3 – Performs all searches from Levels 1 and 2 plus sanctions information from all states and U.S. territories

Most organizations ask for the following searches in their EMT background checks:

  • Identity verification
  • County and state criminal records checks
  • National criminal records check
  • OIG check
  • FACIS check
  • SAM check
  • National sex offender registry search
  • Motor vehicle records check
  • Professional license verification
  • Education verification
  • Employment verification
  • Lab-based drug test

Here’s what might a few of these reports might show.

Criminal History

A criminal background check for employment shows the following data about an applicant’s criminal convictions or pending criminal cases:

  • Offense date
  • Offense type/nature
  • Offense level/severity
  • Case disposition
  • Disposition date
  • Sentence information if available

Education Verification

Education verification confirms whether an applicant has honestly reported their educational attainment.

An education verification reveals the following data about the schools an applicant has attended and their educational attainment:

  • Name and address of each school
  • Attendance dates
  • Any diplomas, certificates, or degrees conferred

Employment Verification

Employment verification confirms an applicant’s past employment as reported on their applications or resumes.

Employment verification displays the following information about each of an applicant’s past jobs:

  • Name and address of each employer
  • Employment dates
  • Positions and job titles held

Professional License Verification

Professional license verification for an EMT shows the following information:

  • Certification number
  • Issuance date
  • Certification type
  • Certification status
  • Suspensions/sanctions
  • Expiration date

Motor Vehicle Records Check

Since EMTs must drive ambulances as a part of their job, they typically must have commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs).

A motor vehicle records check reveals the following information about an EMT’s driving record:

  • License class
  • Issuance date
  • License number
  • Any endorsements
  • Traffic infractions
  • Criminal traffic convictions
  • Accidents
  • Suspensions/revocations
  • Expiration date

Lab-Based Drug Screen

A pre-employment drug test shows any positive results for one or more of the following drugs:

  • THC (marijuana)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Opiates
  • Amphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • Cocaine
  • Propoxyphene
  • Methaqualone
  • Methadone

7 EMT Background Check Disqualifiers

Several issues might prevent an applicant from working as an EMT.

Some of the most common red flags for an EMT applicant are described below.

1. Disqualifying Criminal Convictions

Paramedics work closely with people who are at their most vulnerable.

Because of this, many organizations will turn down EMTs who have the following types of convictions:

  • Sex offenses
  • Violent crimes
  • DUIs/major traffic crimes within the past few years
  • Elder abuse or neglect
  • Drug thefts
  • Crimes against children
  • Theft

2. Being Named on the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities

Applicants that are listed in the LEIE database are unable to work for organizations contracting with Medicare or Medicaid and will likely be denied employment as an EMTs.

3. Lying About Past Employment

Some EMT applicants lie about their past employment to try to hide gaps between jobs or other issues.

Organizations that request employment verification can easily identify these types of misrepresentations and will likely deny employment to a dishonest applicant.

4. Lying About Education

Employers who request education verification can easily see that a paramedic has lied about their education.

Prospective EMTs who have lied about their education will likely be rejected for employment.

5. Failing the Drug Test

Organizations typically require pre-employment drug tests as a condition of employment for paramedics.

If an applicant fails the drug test by returning a positive result, the conditional employment offer will likely be withdrawn.

6. Professional Certification Problems

Professional license verification will show the status of an EMT’s certificate and whether it is valid or has been suspended.

If an applicant’s certificate is suspended or invalid, the organization might deny employment.

7. Poor Driving Record

EMTs must transport injured and ill patients to the hospital, and their driving records must be relatively clear.

If an EMT has too many traffic violations, the wrong license class, or major traffic crimes on their driving record, they will likely be denied employment.

EMT Background Check Laws 2022

While there are no laws that are specific to EMT background checks, there are some important laws that apply to all types of employment background checks.

Federal Background Check Laws

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects consumer privacy in the information gathered, retained, and reported by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to employers while conducting background checks.

The FCRA also covers how employers can use the information from background checks to make hiring decisions.

When a job pays a salary under $75,000, the FCRA prohibits CRAs from reporting the following types of information when it is older than seven years:

  • Arrests not resulting in convictions
  • Civil lawsuits
  • Liens
  • Bankruptcies
  • Civil judgments

The FCRA’s restrictions don’t apply to jobs offering salaries of at least $75,000 per year or to other important information.

For example, information about an applicant’s past convictions, employment, and education can be reported no matter how old it might be.

When employers receive reports containing negative information, they must complete the adverse action process before they can make a final decision not to hire an applicant based on the information revealed in the background check.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or applicants because of their protected characteristics.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII. Under EEOC guidance, employers that learn an applicant has a criminal record must individually assess the record as it directly relates to the duties of the open job before they make an adverse hiring decision.

State Laws

Employment background check laws vary from state to state.

Some local and state governments have passed ban-the-box laws, which control when in the hiring process you can conduct background checks and ask about criminal history information.

Check the laws in your state and municipality to learn the requirements that might apply to you.

How Far Back do EMT Background Checks Go?

How far back an EMT background check will go depends on the FCRA and the laws of your state.

If your open paramedic positions pay less than $75,000 per year, your background checks will be subject to the seven-year time restriction for the types of information previously discussed.

However, the FCRA’s time limitations don’t apply to conviction records, employment history, education history, and other relevant information.

If your state has an expungement law, any expunged convictions won’t be reported.

How to Run a Background Check on an EMT

Some organizations take a do-it-yourself approach to conducting EMT background checks.

They might send numerous information requests to an applicant’s past schools, employers, and references while also submitting requests to multiple agencies.

A do-it-yourself approach can take weeks and reveal inaccurate, old, or incomplete background information.

The best approach is to partner with a reliable background check provider like iprospectcheck for your background checks.

We stay current with all relevant laws and use cutting-edge research methods to return FCRA-compliant, accurate, and current background check reports to our clients quickly.

Partner with iprospectcheck for EMT Background Checks

Healthcare organizations must conduct comprehensive background checks on prospective EMTs to protect the public, their employees, and their reputation.

If you fail to complete comprehensive EMT background checks, the vulnerable people you serve could be at risk, and your organization could be exposed to substantial liability.

At iprospectcheck, we conduct EMT background checks everywhere in the U.S., including in the following states:

We conduct background screens for all types of EMT positions, including paramedics, EMT students, wilderness EMTs, EMT volunteers, and more.

Request your free background check quote today. Fill out the online form or call us at (888) 509-1979

DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Consult your counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.