Ambulance Technician

The Job and What's Involved

As an ambulance technician (or emergency medical technician), you would respond to accident and emergency calls, as well as a range of planned and unplanned non-emergency cases. You would usually work in a team, providing support to a paramedic during the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients at the scene of an incident and during hospital transfers. You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.

When out on an emergency call, you may have little warning of the exact circumstances you are about to face. Situations could range from helping someone back into bed after a fall, to a major traffic collision with several casualties.

Once at the scene of an accident or emergency, your duties would include:

  • Assessing the patients needs and taking a basic personal and medical history.
  • Carrying out a risk assessment, identifying life and non-life threatening conditions.
  • Interpreting observations (weight, breathlessness, fatigue, oedema/fluid retention).

You would also decide which type of pre-hospital emergency care was most suitable and carry out certain treatments, for example:

  • Managing airways and supporting breathing.
  • Controlling bleeding whilst maintaining circulation with cardio pulmonary resuscitation.
  • Using semi-automatic defibrillators to steady irregular heart beats.
  • Applying special splints and dressing wounds.

Your duties would also include making routine checks on your vehicle and cleaning, storing and checking ambulance equipment. Throughout the working day you would keep in regular contact with the emergency dispatch centre (also known as command and control).

Typical full-time hours are 37.5 a week, including nights, weekends and bank holidays. Part-time hours may also be available.

You would spend much of your time out on the road. When transferring patients, your work may involve heavy lifting, bending and carrying.

You would wear a uniform, including a bright jacket, protective boots and, in some services, a stab proof vest.

You are likely to face some difficult situations, including emotionally distressed clients and verbal aggression from people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Ambulance technicians, where they are still employed, can earn between around £18,100 and £22,000 a year.

Extra allowances (known as salary uplifts) may be paid to workers in certain geographical areas, and to those expected to be on standby, work unsocial hours or rotational shifts.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Following a major review, it is no longer possible to enter the ambulance service as a trainee ambulance technician in some parts of the UK. Many ambulance services are phasing out this role altogether, and others are only recruiting qualified and experienced technicians.

Education and Training

For existing technicians, there will be a period of transition.

Available opportunities are likely to include:

Pursuing work as an ambulance technician with ambulance services which are continuing to recruit qualified technicians
transferring into the role of an Emergency Care Assistant (ECA) progressing to Paramedic, for example by applying for a student paramedic post.

For further advice, you can check with local ambulance services (see the NHS Choices website for a list of local ambulance trusts), and NHS Careers.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

As a qualified technician you would be expected to attend regular training sessions to help keep your skills up to date.

You would also be reassessed periodically.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

An ambulance technician needs:

  • A genuine desire to help and care for others.
  • Good spoken and written communication skills.
  • Good listening skills.
  • Attention to detail.
  • The ability to use computerised communication systems.
  • The ability to manage and respond to a changing workload.
  • Good team working skills.
  • The ability to drive under emergency conditions.
  • Good decision making skills.
  • The ability to remain calm under pressure.
  • An understanding of patient confidentiality.
  • An awareness of equality and diversity in the work place and surrounding community.

Your Long Term Prospects

You could find opportunities for secondment or promotion in the ambulance control room, in a training role or in human resources.

Traditionally staff joining the ambulance service could work their way up with experience and additional training from care assistant, through ambulance technician to paramedic. However, this route is no longer open to new entrants. Anyone wishing to work as a paramedic will now need to either secure a student paramedic position with an ambulance service trust, or attend an approved full-time course in paramedic science at a university.

Get Further Information

NHS Careers, PO Box 376, Bristol BS99 3EY
Tel: 0345 60 60 655

Health Learning and Skills Advice Line
Tel: 08000 150850
Website: https://nationalcareersservice

College of Paramedics,
The Exchange, Express Park
Bristol Road, Bridgwater TA6 4RR
Tel: 01 278 420014

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