Background Over the past twenty years, Kenya has been developing many important components of a prehospital emergency medical services (EMS) system. This is due to the ever-increasing demand for emergency medical care across the country. To better inform the next phase of this development, we undertook an assessment of the current state of EMS training in Kenya. Methods A group of international and Kenyan experts with relevant EMS and educational expertise conducted an observational qualitative assessment of Kenyan EMS training institutions in 2016. Three assessment techniques were utilised: semi-structured interviews, document review, and structured observations. Recommendations were reached through a consensus process amongst the assessment team. Results Key findings include: (i) No national or state-level policy exists that establishes levels of EMS providers or expected fund of knowledge and skills; (ii) Training institutions have independently created their own individual training standards; (iii) Training materials are not adapted for the local context; (iv) The foundation of basic anatomy and physiology education is weak; (v) Training does not focus on symptom- or syndrome-based complaints; (vi) Students had difficulty applying foundational classroom knowledge in simulations and clinical encounters; (vii) There is limited emphasis on complex critical thinking. Discussion Standardisation of training is needed in Kenya, including clearly defined levels of providers and expected learning outcomes. A nationally standardised EMS provider scope of practice may also help focus EMS education. Instructors must reinforce basic anatomy and physiology amongst all trainees to establish a robust foundation, then layer on field experience before trainees receive advanced training. Training graduates should be EMS providers who approach patient care with high-order symptom- or syndrome-based critical thinking. While these recommendations are specific to the Kenyan EMS environment, they may have wider applicability to other developing EMS systems in resource-limited settings.