How to become an ambulance dispatcher: Emily's story

Meet Emily, 23, and learn more about life as an ambulance dispatcher. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

The most satisfying thing about my job is knowing that, at the end of the day, I've helped a family just like mine.

  • Helping people runs in the family. Both her mum and dad work for the North West Ambulance Service, and Emily decided to follow suit and become an ambulance dispatcher
  • Emily studied Spanish at A-level and loved the fact that she could communicate with others in different languages. She wanted to use these skills in the workplace – in dispatch, communication is key!
  • Multi-tasking is crucial in her role as Emily is the main point of contact between the ambulance crew and the control room and must make sure she dispatches the ambulance to the most critical patients quickly.
Watch Emily and her colleagues in action on BBC One's Ambulance.

What to expect if you want to be a community specialist paramedic

Community paramedics respond to emergency calls and work with people in their local community to advise and direct them on what services are available. You need to be a qualified paramedic and have several years' experience on the road before you can work as a community specialist paramedic.

  • Paramedic salary: £24,214 to £37,267 per year
  • Paramedic working hours: 36 to 38 hours per week. You work shifts, which could include evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
  • Typical entry requirements: You'll need to get a university paramedic qualification that is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Full-time courses usually take three years. You'll usually need two to three A-levels (or equivalent) for a degree. You can get into this role through a paramedic degree apprenticeship. There are no set entry requirements, but it may help if you have four or five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications such as A-levels (or equivalent).
    It may help you if you have volunteered as a community first responder with an organisation like St John Ambulance or an NHS ambulance trust. You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator or manager at your local NHS trust for advice about opportunities.
    You can apply directly to this role via your local ambulance service. Each service sets their own entry requirements, though it may help your application if you have GCSEs (or equivalent) grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English, Maths and Science.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

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