Ambulance Personnel Careers

How to become an Ambulance Personnel

What does a Ambulance Personnel do?

Emergency medical dispatcher and Patient Transport Services (PTS) call handlers are a key part of the ambulance service’s control team. Emergency medical dispatchers receive urgent calls to the service and help to mobilise and control Accident and Emergency vehicles. PTS call handlers work in the non-emergency service organising routine transport to take patients to and from hospital appointments and home after discharge. The job titles, as well as the duties, vary slightly between local ambulance services.

Emergency medical dispatchers, working under the direction of a control officer, answer urgent calls, take essential information from callers, including their exact location and details of what has happened, decide on the type of response needed and, if appropriate, dispatch the nearest ambulance, rapid response car, motorcycle or paramedic helicopter. Some ambulance services split this role into call takers and dispatchers.

They may have to give advice over the phone to people facing life-threatening situations, and help them cope until the ambulance arrives. In such situations the caller may be distressed, and the operator will need to calm them in order to ensure they can provide the essential information necessary for the ambulance service to be able to respond.

PTS call handlers deal with requests for transport; this can be for the same day or anything up to eight weeks ahead. They are responsible for the accurate recording of patients’ details.

What's the working environment like working as a Ambulance Personnel?

Full-time ambulance personnel in the NHS work a 39-hour week. They work rotating shifts, including nights, weekends and public holidays.

Emergency medical dispatchers and PTS call handlers work in an office environment at a switchboard.

What does it take to become a Ambulance Personnel?

To be an emergency control room operator you need:

  • the ability to record and process information accurately
  • to enjoy helping people
  • a strong sense of responsibility and a serious attitude to work
  • good organisational skills
  • to enjoy being part of a team
  • to be able to stay calm under pressure
  • good telephone manner and good spoken communication skills
  • good eyesight, hearing and keyboard skills.

Ambulance Personnel Career Opportunities

Most ambulance personnel are trained by and work for the NHS, although there are some opportunities to train and work in the armed forces. The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service does not accept armed forces qualifications.

It may be possible with the appropriate skills and experience, to progress to a supervisory or management role, responsible for a team of dispatchers/call handlers. It might also be possible to move to ambulance duties providing applicants meet the entry requirements and successfully complete the selection process. Another option is to move into training.

Employment in the ambulance services is generally stable, but you are likely to find most vacancies in London and the South East. It might be necessary to move to a different area in order to find a post.

More information and a list of ambulance services are available from The Ambulance Service Association.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Ambulance Personnel that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Ambulance Service Association
Friars House
157-168 Blackfriars Road
Tel: 020 7928 9620

London Ambulance Service
Recruitment Centre
St Andrews House
St Andrews Way
Devons Road
E3 3PA
Tel: 020 7887 6638

Scottish Ambulance Service
National Headquarters
Tipperlinn Road
EH10 5UU
Tel: 0131 446 7000

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
Human Resources Department
Ambulance Headquarters
12-22 Linenhall Street
Tel: 028 9024 6113

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