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 range: £17,652 to £20,795

How to become an emergency medical dispatcher

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


Good computer skills and a typing qualification could be useful to get into this job, for example:

  • Level 2 Award in Touch Typing
  • Level 2 ECDL Award in IT User Skills

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements for this route.

More information


You can get into this role through an advanced apprenticeship in emergency service contact handling.

You’ll usually need to be over 18 years old and may need a GCSE grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English or equivalent.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

More information

Volunteering and experience

Paid or unpaid experience of working in healthcare would be useful. You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator or manager at your local NHS trust for advice about opportunities.

Direct application

You can apply directly to your local ambulance service.

Each service sets their own entry requirements, though it may help your application if you have:

  • GCSEs grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English, maths and science
  • experience in customer care, like a call centre operator
  • map reading skills and knowledge of local geography
  • an understanding of medical terminology
  • the ability to speak a community language
  • a recognised and up-to-date first aid qualification

More information

Further information

You can find out more about becoming an emergency medical dispatcher from Health Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • customer service skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • administration skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • keeping the caller calm to get essential information
  • finding out the location and details of what happened
  • giving basic first aid advice to people facing life-threatening situations
  • helping people cope until an ambulance arrives
  • deciding whether the caller needs an ambulance, car, motorbike or helicopter
  • working out which vehicle is nearest
  • contacting the crew and passing on vital information
  • creating electronic records of calls and events

Working environment

You could work in a control room.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

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

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