Nurses are the backbone of a healthcare facility as they assess, observe, record details and symptoms, perform wound care, coordinate care by collaborating with other health professionals, etc. In addition to providing care and guidance, they often are patients’ first point of contact in a medical setting, which raises the question, “Are nurses first responders?” While they play an important role in aiding patients, they don’t provide first aid outside hospitals or other healthcare settings. Therefore, they’re not considered as first responders.

Follow along as we elaborate on why nurses aren’t first responders, what a first responder is, who classifies as a first responder, and more.

What Is a First Responder?


First responders are emergency professionals who have received specialized training to provide first aid in emergencies such as natural disasters, crime scenes, accidents, fires, rescue help, biological/chemical threats, etc. They’re the first to arrive at the location, where they assess the situation and respond by providing first aid to those involved for injuries or trauma.

Because they are the first people to arrive at the scene and have to manage rescue and first aid, they need to have a broad skill set, which includes:

  • Problem-solving skills: during an emergency, first responders have to assess and address the medical needs starting from the most critical ones.
  • Physical strength: often, they’ll have to move patients from a dangerous location to a safer one, open doors in a burning building, etc., which require physical strength.
  • Communication skills: during dangerous situations, first responders must communicate effectively with patients and other team members to ensure optimal care.

Who Classifies as a First Responder?

Generally, police officers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and rescue squads are considered first responders. They have similar medical training as nurses and doctors, focusing on emergency scenes, natural disasters, accidents, etc. Their training includes providing care in dangerous and clinical settings.

According to, the organization that verifies first responders for local, state, and federal organizations, the occupations that qualify as first responders are:

Emergency Medical Technicians

  • Paramedics
  • Medical helicopter pilots
  • Mobile intensive care nurses
  • Pre-hospital registered nurses
  • Emergency medical technicians (EMT)

Law Enforcement Officers

  • Police officers
  • Serriffs
  • State troopers
  • Park police & Parole officers
  • School resource officer
  • Detention officers
  • Fire marshals (certified law enforcement officers), etc.


  • Career firefighters
  • Volunteer firefighters
  • Wild-land firefighters
  • Fire marshals

911 Dispatchers

  • Fire communications officers
  • Public safety telecommunicators
  • Police, fire, or EMS dispatchers

Are Nurses First Responders?


First responders are typically the first to arrive at an emergency scene through vehicles to provide on-site support (ambulances, fire trucks, and police vehicles). In comparison, nurses don’t meet patients on-site or use transportation to arrive at an emergency situation. After arriving at the hospital, triage nurses determine the level of requirement for any patient and what treatment they need, thus prioritizing and directing patients through the facility.

Nurses who work in an ER or trauma department have an important role in providing urgent medical aid. Though their work focuses on urgent treatment and care, they don’t qualify as first responders.

While most nurses aren’t considered first responders, a type of nursing occupation considered a first responder is flight nurse. This is due to them operating from a helicopter to arrive at the scene of an emergency. Apart from providing first aid, flight nurses also transport patients to a healthcare facility for medical care. Becoming a flight nurse requires additional skills as they need to evaluate the patient’s condition, provide the necessary treatments depending on the emergency, be comfortable in smaller spaces, and adapt to working in an aircraft. Some of the technical skills include advanced cardiac life support, neonatal resuscitation, transport techniques, etc.

Can Nurses Help in an Emergency Situation?


In cases where a nurse is present at the scene of an accident, either by being a witness or being one of the parties involved, they can use their medical skills and knowledge to assist the victims and ensure police, EMTs, and firefighters are on the way. However, after confirming the first responders are on the way, they’re essentially civilians, not those needed to tend to an emergency.

Nurses may be called to act as first responders during a mass casualty incident (MCI), where the situation requires a high demand of medical professionals on site. During these types of situations (earthquakes, wildfires, floods, physical/biological threats), entire communities can be in distress, thus requiring an abundance of emergency personnel and medical resources, such as bandages and medicine.

Can Nurses Get First Responder Discounts?

Working as a nurse, you put others first and ensure your patients’ well-being, thus being a crucial part of society. Therefore, it’s incredible when the community and companies recognize your hard work and want to show appreciation. While most nurses aren’t first responders, you’ll still benefit from many discounts meant for first responders, healthcare employees, and medical professionals.

Below, you’ll find some companies offering discounts in different categories, such as:

  • Clothing and shoes: Brands like Nike, New Balance Shoes, Adidas, Reebok, etc., offer favorable discounts for first responders, nurses, and other medical professionals.
  • Electronics: You’ll be able to get deals such as 30% off on selected products on Samsung, up to 40% off on HP Products, etc.
  • Food and kitchen: First responders, medical providers, and hospital employees can benefit from 50% off and free shipping on their first box on Hello Fresh, 15% off when buying Kind Bars online, 15% off on selected products on Kitchenaid, etc.
  • Travel and vacations: as a healthcare worker or a first responder, you’ll be able to benefit from discounts such as 10% off with MSC cruises, 30% off on hotel stays on Caesars Rewards, 10% off on travel costs through Hotwire, etc.
  • Home goods: nurses, first responders, and medical professionals can get various discounts on home goods products such as Brooklyn Bedding, The Happy Planner, YETI, etc.
  • Jewelry: Pandora Jewelry offers a 10% discount for first responders and medical professionals both online and in-store.
  • Entertainment: as a licensed nurse, first responder, or other medical provider, you can get a discount of 25% on NFL+  subscriptions.


First responders are active or retired employees of an emergency response team, expected to arrive first at the scene of an emergency. Nurses aren’t first responders, but they still play a crucial role in providing life-saving care and assisting patients in healthcare facilities.

You can take many routes to make a difference in your community, either by volunteer work or by pursuing a career in healthcare, such as a nurse. If you want to get started on a career in nursing, check out our Registered Nursing School and learn more about our program.