Job type

Emergency medical dispatcher

£20k - £25k

Typical salary

40 – 42

Hours per week

Emergency medical dispatchers handle calls from the public and GPs requesting an ambulance.

More info

  • Help make sure emergency services reach people in need quickly
  • You'll need to be calm under pressure and able to think quickly and act decisively
  • You'll usually need to work shifts with evenings and weekends

As an emergency medical dispatcher you'll need to meet standards for response times so you'll be working quickly and under pressure. Some ambulance services split the role into call handlers and dispatchers.


As a call handler, you'll be:

  • Keeping the caller calm to get essential information
  • Finding out the location and details of what happened
  • Logging information electronically and passing it to a dispatcher
  • Giving advice to people facing life-threatening situations
  • Helping people cope until an ambulance arrives

As a dispatcher, you'll be:

  • Deciding what's needed - ambulance, car, motorbike or helicopter
  • Working out which vehicle is nearest
  • Contacting the crew
  • Passing on vital information


You'll work shifts, including evenings and weekends, including public holidays. You'll work in a control room, under a supervisor. Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You'll need

This role would be ideal for someone who want to help people in need with excellent communication skills to handle 999 calls, the ability to think quickly under pressure, fast, accurate typing skills, and IT skills to use computerised command and control systems.

There are no set requirements for this role but good computer skills and a typing qualification could be useful to get into this job, for example a Level 2 Award in Touch Typing and Level 2 ECDL Award in IT User Skills.

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 and a recognised and up-to-date first aid qualification.

You can also 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.

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.


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