EMA Practical Licensing Exam

I’m feeling exhausted. I just want to plop into my bed and sleep instead of going to the work dinner tonight where me and my coworkers have to dance to High School Musicals for the volunteer appreciation dinner.  Its not that I don’t appreciate the volunteers at work, its just that it has been a long day.

I just finished my EMR practical exams for EMA licensing, 08:00-16:30.  I can’t even remember how many calls we did, must have been at least eight.  Funny thing was that I was the only EMR doing testing that day, so I was always paired with a PCP student and got to assist them with their calls, which for the most part were the same except for different protocols.

Oh, I think I forgot to mention the most important thing:  I passed 🙂

Hmmmmm, I was hoping I’d feel euphoria when I typed those two words but I just feel relief and exhaustion.

The examiners were really nice and all my calls went super smooth except when one examiner kept on bugging me by asking me why the patient was having a seizure.  I listed all the possibilities of him having a seizure that I could think of on the spot:  OD, diabetes, epilepsy, heat stroke, infection, poisoning…except he wouldn’t relent and throughout the whole call kept on asking me the same question:

What do you think is causing the seizure?

I couldn’t figure out why he kept on bugging me about it and it got me pretty frustrated, especially since I was trying to run the call and answer the questions at the same time.  Sure I couldn’t diagnose the patient (since none of the reasons for seizures that I could think of seemed to make sense), but I dealt with the airway and lack of breathing just fine.  I treated the patient fine.  Even the examiner said the treatment was perfect.  So why was he bugging me so much?

I found out at the end of the call when we chatted.  Alcohol intoxication resulting in seizures.  The patient was in withdrawal.

I felt like smacking myself in the head.  Well of course!  When I talked to the bystanders earlier on scene they mentioned he drank.  I remember a light bulb flickering on in my head with the words:  ETOH possible cause.  I didn’t write it down (stupid me) and got caught up in other things because the patient was having airway and breathing problems, so by the time I did have time to think about it, I had totally forgotten what the bystander had told me.

I guess the examiner was really pushing me.  He said I ran the call perfectly, but if I was a PCP student he’d fail me because I failed to note alcohol as a possible cause.  Well I think he might be taking it to an extreme, but none-the-less it was a good reminder for me to write down the histories the bystanders tell me in the primary before I forget and take the patient away.  Especially a patient who can’t respond to me or tell me any of their histories.

On a brighter note.  At the end of the day, during the final debriefing with one of the examiners:

Examiner:  “Well, I don’t really have anything to say to you.  You did great.”

Me:  “Thank you…”

Examiner:  “You must do the PCP program.  Your train of thought and level is way beyond the EMR level.  You’re the people they’re looking for.”

Me:  “Yeah…if I pass the interview next month.”

Examiner:  “Oh yeah, you’ll pass.”

She said that with so much conviction that I just stared at her to see if she was joking.  She wasn’t. She said that so confidently and genuinely.  I didn’t feel like I deserved such a compliment.

As I went to leave…

Examiner:  “I’ll see you out there on car some day.”

I don’t know how some people can believe in me so much, I wish I could believe in myself as much as they do.

Two more exams left:  Written exam on Monday and jurisprudence exam (which was supposed to be on Tuesday but I still haven’t gotten the link!).  I got the most stressful and difficult one out of the way today.  I’ll keep you updated on how the other two goes.

For those who are curious about the calls I got for licensing today:

Full calls:
1.  Status epilepticus
2.  High fall trauma–Spinal with chest injuries, GCS 7
3.  Burn patient (assistant)
4.  Trauma with Fxs (no spinal)/penumothorax/subcutaneous emphysema (assistant)

1.  IV Maintenance
2.  Entonox
3.  Spinal Rolls (Assistant)

Other scenarios that day which I didn’t help with:
1.  Heat stroke
2.  Femur Fx Splinting with wooden splints

Calls not done today but is likely on the exam:
1.  Diabetic
2.  Sager
3.  Cardiac CP
4.  Flail Chest
5.  Splinting
6.  CPR/AED (Adult/Infant)
7.  Choking (Adult/Infant)

**NOTE: These are not the be-alls and end-alls to the many possibilities of what you’ll get.  But it is to give you a general impression of some of the calls you may get for EMA licensing.

PS  You can bring a calculator to the exam for drug dosage calculations.


31 thoughts on “EMA Practical Licensing Exam

    1. EMA stands for Emergency Medical Assistants. The EMA Licensing Board ensures that all medical responders and paramedics (EMA) are trained up to the required level to provide care for the public. The licensing board does this by examining, registering, and licensing all EMAs in BC. So in order to work after you have your say EMR or PCP certificate, you have to go to the EMA licensing board and pass their exams before they provide you with a license so you can work.

      1. I was just wondering how you applied for licensing. I find it very confusing and the lack of information is not helping. I filled out the application and I guess I just send it in… somewhere? Any help would be pretty cool.

        P.S. I like your blog tons of cool stories.

      2. Hi Skyler,

        Yes the whole EMALB’s website isn’t the easiest to navigate through.
        What you need to do is first pay the fees required for licensing ($500 total which includes written, practical and jurisprudence). You also need to take a photo of yourself (for the ID once you pass) the requirements is waist up according to the website. Then you send in your application form along with the money and photo to the EMA Licensing Board in Victoria:

        EMA Licensing| Ministry of Health Services | Ph: 250 952-1199; Fx: 250 952-1222 | PO Box 9625 Stn Prov Govt. Victoria BC V8W 3C8|

        Once you do that, then you will get a confirmation email sent to you from the licensing board providing instructions on how to book the written, practical, and jurisprudence exam. All of which are booked online.

        Note that the jurisprudence exam takes time even after you’ve submitted the application form. It took me about 2 weeks before I got the link and password to write it. The written exam takes the longest to process (about 3 weeks).

        You can also contact them via email:

        Let me know if you need anymore help.

        Glad you like reading my blog 🙂

  1. Great blog, I needed some reassurance as I’m going through the course at JI in February and just going through the material. I’m quite excited but nervous about the examinations. I agree the EMALB site is confusing, glad you summarized the process. Long term I’ll probably get an EMR and leave it at that (involved with search and rescue – no desire to do be a FT paramedic), I’ve found your blog to be a wealth of information on getting licensed and your practical experience. Keep it up, I enjoy reading it 🙂


    1. Hi Ben,

      Glad you found the info informative. I’ve thought about joining search and rescue before too, although I believe there are mostly volunteer organizations over here…not sure if there are any paid SARs.

      Good luck in February! I might run into you then, as I’ll be around JI.


  2. dont do it
    i am a paramedic in bc (PCP IV)
    dont waste your time
    clearly you are smart and the examiner saw that
    too smart for BCAS…
    run – dont walk, in the opposite direction

    1. Hi Kelley,

      I’ve been told that many times…and I see why people tell me that. But I don’t think I’d be satisfied till I give this a try, that way I’ll have no regrets about the “What If’s”. I’ve thought about going to Alberta, but I’m just way too attached to BC.

      1. If you want to Starve on $ 2.00 an hour Pager Pay Your reward for spending over 10K to be a PCP. “Fill Yer Boots”. In Alberta, Every Station you work at you get paid… What a concept!

        1 call or 1,000 per year… On Duty = Pay Day.

        If you live @ Your Mom’s and she feeds you… then BCAS is Right For You!

        The above should be a recriuting poster….

      2. It’s true you get paid $2/hr on pager pay when you’re posted at certain rural stations until you get a call. It’s tough getting through the first several years to make enough money before getting into full time and the pay varies based on the number of spareboards available/you pick up. That I don’t deny. However, people manage to make ends meet somehow. Most people I believe do it because they love what they do. Personally, my major reason for staying in BC is because I love this province and what it has to offer: The mountains, the lakes, the beaches in the summer, it’s a great place if you love the outdoors.

    2. Whats it like working out there? I am from ontario and looking for work, since i graduated in april 2012. Is it worth it to go over to bc or should i go to alberta?

      1. Hey Lauren. That depends. If you want to start with a full time job and get good pay, I’d go to Alberta (they start at about $30-$35 I believe), I’m not sure what their employment situation is right now however. I know for BC we are currently hiring in the smaller towns, and it wouldn’t be a problem getting a job if you’re willing to live there. I do warn that it can be a bit of a struggle making good money when you first start off as a paramedic in BC because there are such things a a pager pay and you don’t get paid per hour until you get a call out (starting wage at PCP-IV level is now ~$21.61). It takes about 5yrs of seniority to get a full time position at the moment unless you’re at the ACP level. I personally would have gone to Alberta if I didn’t like BC so much, as I love the outdoors and BC has it all from mountains to oceans. Feel free to ask more questions if you have any.

      2. I have no previous professional experience as a PCP; i only work for a transfer service right now in ontario. The hourly wages here at 33$/hr as a PCP w/o iv cert.

        I still have to look into the AB licensing process, but my passion is paramedic and all i want to do is work.

        Are you working as a pcp? How long have you been working?

      3. I’m working at the PCP-IV level. Been working for 2.5yrs now. For the transfer service in Ontario, do you have to be a licensed PCP to work?

      4. Nope! Look up voyageur medical transportation. The min req is an EFR course, but bc you already have a higher cert, you will get hired right away. Pay is 12$/hr. i work 3 nights a week for the company. We also have something called “brokers” they get priority for call response- dispatch has pre booked calls and assigns them the patients for transfer (inter hospital, NH, or residences)- so if you need extra $, its alright working for them. I just stay away because i dont like the rush of how they run calls…i want to focus on patient care and communication. Its not a race to get as many patients as i can in 12hrs.

        Email me directly if its easier for you 🙂


      5. Yes! I sent in my application for licensing last week. I just have to write the online exam when they send it to me thru email.

        Have you written it? Or bc youre from BC you dont have to?

  3. Hi, I am finally getting lisenced after taking my EMR course at JIBC in Feb/March. I have my practical exam at the start of October and was wondering if you had any tips? Or any hints where I could find some practice calls? I’m worried because I only have my family members really to help me. All advice would be appreciated. love your blog 🙂

    1. Hi Linsey,

      If you log into the blackboard of the JIBC website, there should be a section where you have access to practical simulations and you can practice from there. Also, if you live near the JIBC, or a commutable distance, you can book a room or just drop in for practice. There are usually students there practicing for licensing.

      As for tips, just try not to get to nervous! Do what you’ve been taught and follow the patient assessment model and you should do fine 🙂 Review your protocols, drug monographs, and the pathophysiology of conditions/diseases you may encounter.

      Let me know if you have more questions. Good luck!

      1. Thank you for the luck! After having a summer off I am nervous that I have forgotten things. It seems to be coming back pretty quickly, but I do have to say I am scared for wooden splinting. We barely covered it in class. Do you know any videos that may show it step by step?

      2. There should be some videos online on the JIBC website. I have heard rumors that they have now stopped testing using the wooden splints, although I’m not 100% sure on that one.

        Just remember the rules for splinting: Immobilize the joint above and below the injury. Also don’t forget to pad and check CMS! 🙂

  4. I think the whole EMR licensing process needs an overhaul. For me the EMR course was relatively easy. I love health care in general. The licensing process that’s another story. It is enough to turn people away from this profession. It seemed very inconvenient from start to end and I found the staff associated with this process just didn’t seem to get it. I think it’s time for a wake up call for the whole department before it’s too late to turn this process around and we have lost too many good people.

    1. I agree that there is a disconnect between licensing and course taught for the EMR level. One reason appears that there isn’t a formalized structured exam for EMRs, but EMRs going for licensing gets a PCP exam but “dumbed down”. There needs to be more care tailored to licensing at that level, and exams need to be written specifically for that level. I remember writing my EMR exam and I was the only EMR out of all the PCPs. At the end of one exam, the examiner started asking me questions, and I had to tell him I’m an EMR not a PCP (he appeared surprised and didn’t realize I was licensing at the EMR level not the PCP).

  5. Hi there.

    Great blog! I am going for my EMR licensing exam tomorrow and found your blog very helpful! Thanks for listing out some of the possible calls, there was a couple listed that up until now I had forgotten to study.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Heather – how was your licensing ? I know it was a while ago … I’m hoping to get mine all done by the end of the year, and would love some tips (or anyone else reading this too!). Has the wooden splinting gone now, or is it still tested ?

  6. Did my PCP a few years ago, found out the truth about working for BCAS and let my license go….not working on a pager for $2!!
    Am now licensing as an EMR and if you really wanna get paid, head to the rigs in Alberta….huge dayrates and steady work…..only way to go.
    BCAS is a
    messed up system to try to be involved in if you wanna be a serious medic… You are treated like you live with your parents and they pay all your bills and feed you too….can not make a living working in the system
    After spending upwards of $15,000.00 it turned out to be an absolute joke!!!!!

    1. Yes there are problems with the EHS system in BC. Many people know that going in, and I warn those who enter what to expect. You can make a living as a part timer paramedic in BC, as long as you take the right steps and perhaps make some sacrifices along the way. For others like myself I worked other part time jobs on the side. If you’re willing to work in the rigs and move to Alberta and is happier there, good for you. I toughed out the system (didn’t say I didn’t have challenges along the way, I sure did), but now I’m full time, and once you get full time it is pretty decent.

  7. Hey there PocketMedic. It has been great to view this blog. I had no idea there were such blogs out there. I am a past contract examiner for EMALB. I now operate a company called Star of Life Emergency Training. I enjoy teaching and preparing students for exams. I wanted to let you know that the advise and information you have given people over the years has been spot on and well done. It is good to know that there is someone out there not just spouting off their personal opinions but actually taking the time to give people researched information. Hope to see more of this, but see that it has been sometime since anybody wrote on the blog, so I thought I would stir things up again. All the best to all of you.

    1. Yes, due to personal reasons I have discontinued writing in this blog. Although who knows, maybe I’ll pick it back up at some point. I read your feedback rather late, but I wanted to say thank you for leaving your comment. It’s good to see that it has been handy for people out there. 🙂

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