The Med Shed
What NHS career would suit you?

Emergency Care Assistant


Emergency care assistants (ECA) drive ambulances under emergency conditions and support paramedics as part of ambulance crews attending 999 calls using expert driving skills to get to the scene with the greatest speed possible. They also respond to other patient needs usually alongside a paramedic such as inter-hospital transfers, urgent hospital admissions and other operational activities as and when required.
Under the direct supervision of the paramedic, you will carry out essential emergency care, such as:

  • controlling severe bleeding
  • treating wounds and fractures
  • looking after patients with possible spinal injuries
  • using a defibrillator to resuscitate patients with heart failure

ECAs will take relevant information from carers or others at the scene who may be highly distressed or aggressive.


You will need to:

  • Be able to understand a situation quickly
  • Be resilient in dealing with other people‚Äôs strong emotions
  • Be prepared to go into unknown or unpredictable situations


In general, there are no set entry requirements to become an emergency care assistant but in this area you will need a minimum of three GCSEs, including Maths and English; or an NVQ level 2 in a relevant subject including Maths and English. Full UK driving licence including entitlement to drive vehicles in category C1 (maximum three points). All ambulance service trusts offer initial training for new ECAs, usually around six to nine weeks covering: moving and handling techniques; emergency first aid; basic patient skills; and safe driving techniques. Training includes practical assessments and written exams. There are many local education providers where you can undertake qualifications.

Employers look for relevant work experience. You will have an advantage if you’ve worked or volunteered in a health or social care role. First aid work would also be useful, such as volunteering with St John Ambulance or the British Red Cross.

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