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Emergency medical dispatcher Emergency call handler, ambulance dispatcher

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Emergency medical dispatchers handle calls from the public and GPs requesting an ambulance.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £26,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in subjects like English, maths and science
  • a typing qualification

It may also help you get a job if you've experience in customer services or the health sector.

Requirements for each ambulance service vary. Check with your local ambulance service.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent communication skills to handle 999 calls
  • the ability to think quickly under pressure
  • fast, accurate typing skills
  • IT skills to use computerised command and control systems

3. What you'll do

You'll need to meet standards for response times so you'll be working quickly and under pressure. Some ambulance services split the role into call handlers and dispatchers.

As a call handler, you'll be:

  • keeping the caller calm to get essential information
  • finding out the location and details of what happened
  • logging information electronically and passing it to a dispatcher
  • giving advice to people facing life-threatening situations
  • helping people cope until an ambulance arrives

As a dispatcher, you'll be:

  • deciding what's needed - ambulance, car, motorbike or helicopter
  • working out which vehicle's nearest
  • contacting the crew and passing on vital information

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £17,750

Experienced: £16,750 to £19,500

Highly Experienced: £26,000 or more (manager)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll work shifts, including evenings and weekends, including public holidays.

You'll work in a control room, under a supervisor.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a team leader or control room superintendent.

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Last updated: 11 September 2018