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Health & Social Care careers

Healthcare: Paramedic & Ambulance Services

Why be a paramedic?

Any day, anytime, anywhere, paramedics and the ambulance service are on call. However, emergency calls are just one part of the service that paramedics and ambulance services provide.

You can take on a number of different roles within the ambulance service, ranging from paramedics, emergency care assistants and ambulance technicians, to telephonists and emergency care practitioners. 

What do paramedics do?

The ambulance service has two key roles: 1) responding to emergencies, and 2) providing logistical support for NHS patients as part of the patient transfer service.

The emergency response service is obviously incredibly important and involves a whole team of people. Everything begins with telephone operators who have to determine the location and nature of the incident, before co-ordinating the response by an emergency ambulance team.  

Emergency ambulance teams usually work in pairs and have to deal with a vast array of incidents ranging from car crashes to domestic violence incidents. Each team is made up of a paramedic and either an emergency care assistant or an ambulance technician; the latter tends to be the primary driver of the ambulance.

You might also get the chance to use other emergency response vehicles as part of your job, such as motorbikes or helicopters, which provide other options for responding to different kinds of incidents.

Around three million people use emergency ambulance services each year. The nature of the work varies considerably and you could be needed at any time of the day or night and in all weather conditions. Staff can find themselves in a variety of environments, from car wrecks and supermarkets, to nightclubs and people homes. Flexibility is therefore essential.

The second role of the ambulance service is called the patient transfer service. As the name suggests, this important service provides transport for a whole host of patient needs such as patient discharges (people leaving the hospital after treatment), outpatients, geriatric day care (older people), or non-urgent transfers from one hospital to another.

Telephonists also work in tandem with the drivers to provide coordination and control services. Without this provision, many hundreds of thousands of people would not have access to medical treatment and it is therefore an integral part of the ambulance service.

What about support staff? And what do I need to get into this field?

The occupations within this subsector are divided between medical and non-medical positions. The majority of the medical roles now require a university education. There’s lots of potential for development and you will be working for the second largest employer in the world: the NHS.

If you want to work in this subsector you will have to be an excellent communicator, good at working under pressure and you will often have to make difficult decisions very quickly. You will need to be able to deal with stressful and distressing experiences and be prepared to work on national holidays and weekends.

If you think you tick all those boxes, however, check out the occupational profile of a paramedic to find out more! You may well be perfect for a career in paramedic and ambulance services!