As an Emergency Care Assistant (ECA) you would drive ambulances under emergency conditions and support the work of qualified ambulance technicians (where this role exists) and paramedics.
Your day-to-day duties would include:
When responding to an emergency, you would have little warning of the exact circumstances. For example, you could be involved in:
Your work would involve communicating with patients and relatives with dignity and respect in often challenging circumstances. You would also work closely with emergency services, relevant authorities and health and social care professionals.
You would typically work 37.5 hours a week including shift work, evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Part-time hours may be available once you have completed your training.
You would wear a uniform, which includes protective clothing such as a bright jacket, safety boots and, in some services, a stab-proof vest. You would spend much of your time in the community. Your work may involve heavy lifting, when transferring patients.
Your work is likely to involve attending to emotionally distressed patients in difficult situations, and you may occasionally face verbal aggression from people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Emergency care assistants can earn between around £15,600 and £18,500.
Extra allowances (known as salary uplifts) may be paid to workers in certain regions, and to those expected to be on standby, working unsocial hours or rotational shifts.
Employment in the NHS ambulance service is generally stable. However, to find a position, you may need to relocate. You could contact your local ambulance service for further advice on opportunities in your region.
Each regional ambulance service can set its own entry criteria and training, so it is important you check the details with the ambulance service you wish to join.
In general, to become an ECA you need:
You will also need a full B and C1 category driving licence with no more than three penalty points or any short period disqualification. You may be accepted with a provisional C1, but you will usually need a full licence before you start training (some ambulance services may help you achieve the licence, but this is not standard). You must be at least age 18 to apply for a C1 licence.
Some ambulance services will also prefer you to have:
A full Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check will be carried out when you apply for this role.
For more information contact your local ambulance service listed on the NHS Choices website.
Once you are working as a trainee ECA, you will have a period of intensive training. This can take around nine weeks and cover areas such as:
Your training could also involve working towards a BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Emergency Care Assistance.
For your first six months in post, you will be monitored and assessed as part of an ongoing training programme.
Throughout your career, you will need to keep up to date with advances in patient care relevant to your role. You will be expected to continue your professional development and keep a portfolio of practical and clinical experiences that show your skills and knowledge.
As an ambulance technician you would respond to accident and emergency calls, as well as a range of planned and unplanned non-emergency cases. You would usually work in a team, providing support to a paramedic during the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients at the scene of an incident and during hospital transfers.
You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.
An emergency care assistant needs:
As an experienced ECA, you could apply for a student paramedic post (check the Ambulance Paramedic job guide for details). However, this is not a guaranteed progression route and you would apply for training in open competition with external candidates.
You may also find opportunities for secondment or promotion in the ambulance control room, in a training role, or in human resources.
PO Box 376,
Tel: 0345 60 60 655
Skills for Health,
Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 922 1155
Ambulance Service Network
College of Paramedics,
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