Emergency Medical Dispatcher

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

In this role you could:

  • keep the caller calm to find out the location, details of what happened and condition of the patient
  • give first aid advice to people facing life-threating situations
  • decide which crew and vehicles to dispatch based on the situation and who is nearest
  • contact the crew and pass on essential information
  • create a record of calls


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • customer service skills & be adaptable to change
  • administration & organisational 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 think clearly using logic and reasoning

Restrictions and Requirements

You’ll need to:

  • be over 18 years of age
  • pass background checks
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become an emergency medical dispatcher, you don’t typically need specific GCSE subjects, as this role focuses more on skills and on-the-job training. However, having a strong educational foundation in certain subjects can be beneficial for both your application and your ability to excel in this role. Here are some subjects that can be useful:

  1. English: Good communication skills are essential for an emergency medical dispatcher. You’ll need to understand and convey critical information accurately and quickly. English will help you develop strong verbal and written communication skills.
  2. Mathematics: While you won’t be doing complex calculations as an emergency medical dispatcher, basic math skills are important for tasks like recording times, distances, and vital signs accurately.
  3. Geography: A basic understanding of geography can be helpful for quickly locating and identifying places, which is important when coordinating emergency responses.
  4. Biology: A fundamental knowledge of biology can help you better understand medical terminology and the nature of medical emergencies.
  5. IT/Computer Science: Dispatchers often use computer systems and software to manage calls and coordinate resources. Proficiency in IT and computer skills is an asset.
  6. Psychology or Sociology: Understanding human behavior and emotions can be beneficial, as you’ll need to remain calm and help calm callers during stressful situations.

While specific GCSE subjects are not mandatory for becoming an emergency medical dispatcher, it’s important to note that different emergency service organizations may have their own requirements or preferences. For some roles, especially those with more responsibilities or specializations within dispatching, additional education and qualifications may be necessary. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check with the specific agency or organization you’re interested in to learn about their requirements and preferences for the role of an emergency medical dispatcher.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly

You could do a college course to get some of the computer and typing skills you’ll need in this job.

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

You’ll find it helpful to have some healthcare experience before applying for a job.

In the UK, you could:

  • get advice about volunteering in the NHS
  • do first aid work with the British Red Cross or St John Ambulance
  • find volunteering opportunities through The National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Do IT

Direct Application
You can apply directly to your local ambulance service.

Each service sets its own entry requirements, but it could help your application if you have taken subjects such as English, maths and science;  have experience in customer service, like a call centre operator; have map reading skills and knowledge of local geography; an understanding of medical terminology and a recognised and current first aid qualification.

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work in a control room.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Typically you would work 40-42 hours a week including shift work which includes evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

Career Path & Progression:

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

You could also do additional training to become an emergency care assistant or paramedic.