Emergency call handlers are the first point of contact for the public in providing lifesaving advice and assistance. They are responsible for prioritising calls and giving first aid and medical advice over the telephone, in emergency 999 and non-emergency situations. Most jobs are with the NHS.
You could be:
taking calls from the public, doctors or the NHS 24 Service
recording details from calls on a computer including exact location and details of the emergency
prioritising calls in order of urgency
getting as much information out of the caller as possible, to pass on to the ambulance crew before they arrive
keeping ambulance crew up to date with the situation
talking with the caller and keeping them calm until the ambulance arrives
giving first aid and medical advice to people in life threatening situations
answering non-emergency calls from GP surgeries wanting a patient transferred to hospital.
Scottish ambulance staff are paid on the NHS Agenda for Change. The current pay scales are from April 2023. Emergency call handlers are on Band 3, £25,468 to £27,486 a year. Emergency medical dispatchers are on Band 4, £27,598 to £30,019 a year.
You might get shift allowance for working any unsocial hours.
You would work in a control room as part of a team. In Scotland there are three ambulance control centres, based in Inverness, South Queensferry and Cardonald.
You would often work 12-hour shifts including evenings, nights and weekends, providing a 24-hour cover, 365 days a year.
You would face a computer monitor and wear a telephone headset.
You will have to sit at a desk for long periods of time.
You would need to work quickly to meet the standards for response times.
able to communicate with people of all ages and from different backgrounds
able deal with people in distress
able to remain calm under pressure
able to prioritise, solve problems and make decisions
patient and understanding
able to concentrate and stay focussed for long periods of time
tactful and diplomatic
able to work well as part of a team.
Full training will be given on the job.
There is a 12-month probationary period while you complete your training, which includes a one-week induction, three weeks of classroom training and 10 weeks of working with a buddy.
Training varies between emergency and patient transport services.
Training includes using the switchboard, radio communications and other equipment.
It also covers first aid, the work of accident and emergency crews, prioritising calls, giving telephone advice and using the computerised command and control systems.
You will be required to complete 24 hours of continual educational development every two years, which is for re-certification as an emergency call handler.
After completing your training and have shown you are competent in call handling, you could apply for a position as an emergency medical dispatcher (EMD).
EMDs are responsible for ensuring the nearest and correct type of vehicle and crew are dispatched out to an emergency. This could be an ambulance, rapid response car, motorcycle or air ambulance helicopter.
With further experience you could become a control room manager.