Job Profile: Call Handler/Emergency Medical Dispatcher

Liz Blamire

30th October 2023

Working as part of the ambulance service, call handlers and emergency medical dispatchers deal with emergency calls from the public and make sure that the right help reaches people as soon as possible.

When taking a 999 call, it is important the call handler/dispatcher remains calm, talks clearly and encourages the caller to give accurate information quickly. They will need to find out:

  • Whether the casualty is breathing
  • What has happened
  • What injuries or symptoms are being experienced
  • The location of the incident

This enables the right type of emergency response to be arranged.

Call handlers/dispatchers are also trained to give advice over the phone to enable bystanders to give care whilst they await the emergency services. This can be as simple as reassuring the individual that is injured or unwell, right up to giving instructions for stopping the bleeding after a stabbing or giving CPR after a cardiac arrest.

Required skills and qualities

  • Clear communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Computer skills
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Teamwork
  • Initiative and problem solving
  • Compassion and care

We recommend you watch the BBC Scotland series Paramedics on Scene if you are interested in finding out more, because every episode features call handlers/medical dispatchers and it gives you an excellent insight into their role.

Liz Blamire

Liz is the current tutor2u subject lead for Health and Social Care. She is a former NHS midwife, who has worked in community, birth centre and acute hospital settings. Liz is an SSAT Accredited Lead Practitioner, who has taught Health and Social Care in FE and secondary schools, where she was a successful HOD. Liz is an experienced senior examiner and author.

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