How to Become an Emergency Care Assistant in the UK

Emergency care assistants play an important role in saving the lives of patients facing life-threating situations. Working alongside licensed paramedics, they respond to emergency 999 calls and provide first aid to patients. Emotional strength, empathy and the love to help save lives are some of the competencies you need to excel in this profession.

What do Emergency Care Assistants do?

Although the exact duties of emergency care assistants vary with the nature of the emergency, they generally perform the following tasks;

  • Receiving emergency calls and driving ambulances to emergency scenes
  • Administering first aid to patients that don’t require immediate transportation to a healthcare facility
  • Requesting for additional support from the emergency control center if necessary
  • Recording patient’s information, including name, gender and nature of injury
  • Safely transferring patients to an ambulance and driving them to the nearest hospital
  • Maintaining contact with patients’ relatives and other relevant authorities
  • Ensuring ambulances are in sound mechanical condition.

Work Environment

Emergency care assistants work for 37.5 hours a week, Monday through Sunday. Since emergency care services are operational for 24 hours a day, these assistants typically work on shifts that include evenings, weekends and public holidays.

Like most healthcare practitioners, emergency care assistants wear protective gear, such as safety boots and bright jackets, while at work. The job may involve lifting heavy patients or equipment, and handling patients who may be verbally or physically aggressive.


The salary for emergency care assistants working for the National Health Service is:


Annual Salary

Emergency care Assistants (Band 3)

£16,271 to £19,268.

These figures may increase given that the assistants are entitled to incentives such as overtime working.

Source: National Career Service

Entry Requirements

20 percent discount
20 percent discount

Various providers of emergency services and hospitals have varying employment requirements for emergency care assistants. However, you will generally need:

  • A good standard of education (At least 3 GCSEs (A-C) in subjects like math, English and a Science
  • A full UK driving license – Some employers prefer individuals with licenses with higher category entitlements
  • A clearance certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service

If you wish to pursue professional training, you can do so through a Health – Emergency Care Assistance - apprenticeship.

Many employers also consider a prospective emergency care assistant’s physical and health condition. If you have a medical condition that prohibits you from driving, for instance, you may find it difficult to set your foot in this profession.

Useful Skills and Abilities

Employers prefer emergency care assistants with:

  • Superb communication and interpersonal skills
  • Great driving and practical skills
  • Good teamwork skills
  • An interest in helping people
  • Empathy and emotional resilience
  • A good level of physical fitness

Training and Development

Emergency care assistants begin working as trainees. To get them up to the task, employers provide training covering the following areas:

  • First aid
  • Advanced driving skills
  • Basic life support skills
  • Moving and handling techniques

Even though this training takes around nine weeks, you will still be required to undertake additional training programs for a further six months. After completion, you could be awarded a recognized emergency care certification.

Because you will not want to spend the rest of your career as an emergency care assistant, you can pursue a HCPC recognized degree in paramedic sciences. This will help you move a step forward.

All emergency care assistants are expected to stay abreast of changes in medical technologies by pursuing short professional development courses.

It is also beneficial to compile a portfolio of the emergencies you have previously handled. You could use it to showcase your competence to new employers.

Employment Opportunities

Potential employers for qualified emergency care assistants are:

  • The NHS
  • Private hospitals
  • The Armed Forces
  • Providers of emergency care services, such as the British Red Cross.

After gaining vast work experience, you could become a control room supervisor or be promoted to another administrative role. With a degree in paramedic science, you can be hired as a paramedic.

For job opportunities and additional reading visit:

From 2014 through 2020, there will be around 250,000 jobs for caring services professionals, according to the National Careers Service’s occupational estimates. With plenty of employment opportunities available, this is a career worth every penny. 

Image Sourced from the NHS.