The Med Shed
What NHS career would suit you?

Emergency Medical Dispatcher / Call Handler


You work in the emergency medical dispatch centre for Yorkshire Ambulance Service. It’s a 2pm start today and your role is to take details from 999 call handlers, deciding the most appropriate ambulance response.

The call handler takes a call from a witness to a car crash. The passenger is badly hurt and the driver, although unhurt, is very agitated. You radio a nearby ambulance, sending incident details direct from your computer and ask paramedics to attend. Because the situation will require investigation and could possibly become volatile, you decide to call for the police to attend too.

You send out different emergency vehicles throughout the day, including the paramedic helicopter for an air ambulance rescue. You enjoy the important nature of your work and like playing a key role saving lives every day.


You’re the kind of person who is happy to work in a team, sometimes under intense pressure.

In some cases, you may have to talk a member of the public through an emergency procedure, such as clearing an obstruction from someone’s airway. Or you might need to persuade someone they should visit their GP or emergency department rather than sending an emergency vehicle to them.

You are the one who remains calm and reassuring in order to gather the right information for the right response.


Most trusts ask for a good general education and provide in-service training but you will need excellent communication and keyboard skills. A level 3 apprenticeship may be available in your area. It’s best to contact your nearest ambulance service trust, which may have slightly different requirements.

 Working as an emergency call handler is often a starting point to a career in the ambulance service. You could progress to become a team leader at band 6. You would be in charge of a team of call handlers or dispatchers, responsible for allocating work. With further experience you could become a manager or duty manager at band 7, responsible for line management of staff or the call centre during a shift.

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