Emergency Medical Dispatcher Careers

How to become Emergency Medical Dispatcher

What does a Emergency Medical Dispatcher do?

Emergency medical dispatchers and Patient Transport Services (PTS) controllers are a key part of the ambulance service control team. The job titles, as well as the duties, vary slightly between ambulance services.

Emergency medical dispatchers receive urgent calls to the service and help to mobilise and control accident and emergency vehicles.

Working under the direction of a control officer, they 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.

Dispatchers 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 operator may need to calm the caller in order to ensure they can provide the information necessary for the ambulance service to be able to respond.

PTS call handlers work in the non-emergency service, organising routine transport to take patients to and from hospital appointments and home after discharge.

What's the working environment like working as a Emergency Medical Dispatcher?

Full-time ambulance personnel in the NHS usually work 39 hours a 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 Emergency Medical Dispatcher?

To be an emergency call handler you should:

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

Emergency Medical Dispatcher 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.

With the appropriate skills and experience it may be possible to progress to a supervisory or management role, responsible for a team of dispatchers/call handlers.

It is common for PTS controllers to move on to become emergency medical dispatchers.

It might also be possible to move to ambulance duties providing applicants meet the entry requirements and successfully complete the selection process (see Ambulance Technician profile). 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.

Further information

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

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
Email: learning@nhscareers.nhs.uk

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

London Ambulance Service
Recruitment Centre
St Andrews House
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 (NIAS)
Ambulance Headquarters
Sute 30 Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Saintfield Road
Tel: 028 9040 0999

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