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Ambulance Service

Providing specialised care, often at the scene of an emergency, ambulance service staff care for patients both on site and on the move – but this service is more than driving ambulances and the crew response to urgent 999 calls, with which you may already be familiar. The ambulance service is also made successful by the support and back-up ‘behind the scenes’ from a team of other integral roles.

Playing an essential role in emergency response on the front line of healthcare, where once the priority was transporting injured or critically ill patients to hospital as soon as possible, not all patients requiring ambulance services require the ‘blue lights and sirens’ approach. Highly trained call handlers receiving a 999-call utilising triage software will quickly ascertain the problem allowing emergency medical dispatchers to swiftly decide upon the most appropriate response.

This means that now, a multi-skilled team of clinicians within the ambulance services, are able to provide treatment in people’s homes or in community settings, give healthcare advice over the phone, and more in addition to safely transporting patients to hospitals.

Click on an individual Ambulance Service role below to find entry requirements and more…

Ambulance Care Assistant & Patient Transport Service (PTS) Driver

People working within this role are responsible for conveying people (such as the sick, vulnerable, elderly or disabled) to and from their routine, non-emergency appointments at hospitals, outpatient clinics and care centres. In addition to driving, they will often help patients in and out of the vehicles, including lifting them if needed, ensuring they’re comfortable and safe for the journey and that they arrive in plenty of time.

Based at a hospital or ambulance station, and covering the local area, in this role you may work as part of a two-person team, driving a standard car or a specially designed ambulance vehicle with features built for wheelchairs and similar.

Typical entry requirements:

  • Requirements vary based on specific role and employer, as no set requirements for this role
  • Most employers expect a full, manual driving license (though further driving qualifications may be required for specific vehicles, or dependent on when you passed your test)
  • Demonstrable reasonable-high level of fitness
  • GCSEs or equivalent qualifications are advantageous for entry-level posts or courses, or good levels of numeracy and literacy
  • Experience of working with the elderly or disabled on a paid or voluntary basis is usually beneficial
  • Once in post, you will usually be expected to complete training courses to cover first aid, patient skills, driving techniques etc

Emergency Care Support Worker (ECSW)

An ESCW supports the wider team to provide a high quality of effective care (on a clinical and personal level), responding to cases of sudden, urgent illness or injury and transporting patients to hospital in an ambulance. As well as being trained to select and utilise the appropriate equipment and skills to apply in emergency situations (in line with standard practice and training), this role requires a high level of driving skill, to drive the ambulance under ‘blue light’ conditions as well as in normal traffic.

Entry roles can vary from organisation to organisation, and some training will usually be provided when you start the job. If you’re looking at a specific role and have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.

Emergency Medical Technician

Staff in this role may work as a single responder to reported incidents or be part of a two-person ambulance crew. An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) role is fairly similar to that of a Paramedic, sharing some of the same skills and tasks, such as assessing patients and triage as well as providing some immediate life-saving treatment – where possible reducing the need to take the patient to hospital.  

As part of a wider team, in this role you will have direct contact with, as well as patients, Paramedics, Emergency Call Handlers, Medical Dispatchers, Emergency Medicine Doctors and Nurses.

Typical entry requirements:

  • Requirements vary based on specific role and employer, but you will usually need to have completed a Level 4 EMT apprenticeship, typically lasting 12-18 months
  • To join the apprenticeship, you’ll typically need to, at least:
    • Hold a full, UK, manual driving licence, and have a minimum of 1 year of driving experience. Some placements may require you to have no penalty points or driving offences, so do check in advance if relevant
    • Demonstrate experience of working with people of different ages and from different social groups

Demonstrate a reasonable-high level of fitness (including completing relevant fitness assessments)

Emergency Operators, Call Handlers & Dispatchers

Based within ambulance control rooms, these kinds of roles are responsible for answering emergency calls from members of the public and ensuring that they are provided with the right kind of help as soon as possible. Depending on the employer, these roles may be separated or combined.

These are often high-pressure jobs, as calls may represent a serious, life-or-death, emergency so workers need to remain calm and work quickly. The Call Handler will answer the call and gather the essential details from the caller (such as location and condition) and log this onto the computer system. This information is usually then picked up by an Emergency Medical Dispatcher who will use a triage system to determine the best course of action based on available resources and specific needs of the situation.

In extreme cases, operators may need to talk members of the public through emergency procedures (such as clearing an obstructed airway) – or provide detailed information directly to clinicians while they are on their way to the scene.

Typical entry requirements:

  • Requirements vary based on specific role and employer, as no set requirements for this role
  • GCSEs or equivalent qualifications may be required, but these (or at least good levels of numeracy, literacy and IT skills) are always advantageous
  • Strong communication skills and an ability to stay calm under pressure as must-haves for roles of this kind
  • Experience of working within a call centre environment is usually beneficial, though training (in call centre equipment as well as basic first aid) will be given

Paramedic & Specialist Paramedic

Paramedics are usually one of the first healthcare professionals to arrive at the scene of an emergency. This is a fast-paced role and one that requires staff to make life-saving decisions, and to resuscitate and/or stabilise patients as quickly as possible after having assessed the situation or diagnosed the issue. Having a high level of training means Paramedics can employ a range of techniques, drugs and high-tech equipment to do this.

In this role, you are usually the senior member of a two-person team, and you’ll work alongside other healthcare teams (like Doctors and Nurses within emergency hospital departments, Specialists and Therapists) as well as other emergency services (police and fire and rescue). As well working directly with the patients, you may encounter relatives and members of the public who may be agitated or stressed.

Typical entry requirements:

  • Completion of an approved paramedic science degree (or an apprenticeship degree) – generally lasting 3-4 years (full time) and including both theory and practical work
  • Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, post-graduation
  • Undergraduate courses require 2 or 3 A-Levels (including a science subject) / 5 GCSEs (A-C/4-9) including science, maths and English language
    • Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. science), a relevant NVQ, or a science-based access course
  • Apprenticeships may also require GCSEs or equivalent (including strong health and science background)
  • Demonstrable reasonable-high level of fitness (including completing relevant fitness assessments)
  • A full UK, manual driving licence and minimum of two years of driving experience
    • Some placements may require you to have no penalty points or driving offences, or hold additional driving qualifications