Emergency Care Assistant
Emergency care assistants (ECAs) work with paramedics, making up the accident and emergency ambulance crew. They respond to emergency calls, helping the paramedic to treat people at their home or the scene of an accident. They drive the patient to hospital if they need to. The closest role to this in Scotland is 'ambulance technician'.
Also known as
- Ambulance Emergency Care Assistant
- Emergency Medical Technician (Ambulance)
As an Emergency Care Assistant, you will work with Paramedics as part of the accident and emergency ambulance crew. You help the Paramedic to give people the urgent care and treatment they need, and get them to hospital quickly and safely.
You can be based at a local ambulance station or at a large hospital. You use advanced driving skills to reach the scene as quickly as you can.
Once at the scene, you help the Paramedic assess patients' injuries. You use equipment to observe things such as respiratory rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. You report any changes to the Paramedic.
Then, you help the Paramedic to carry out a variety of emergency and first aid procedures. For example, you help Paramedics to keep patients' airways open during resuscitation. You also help to control blood loss and treat fractures, wounds and burns. You can also give patients oxygen.
A very important part of your work is to check the ambulance for roadworthiness, reporting any faults. You must make sure that equipment is carefully stored and is always in good working order.
Apart from Paramedics, you need to work well with a variety of people, including ambulance control room staff, healthcare staff such as Doctors and Nurses, and people working in the fire and police services. You use radios and telephones to keep in touch with hospitals and ambulance control rooms.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become an Emergency Care Assistant, you'll need:
- to be highly practical
- to enjoy working with people
- strong communication skills
- the ability to act calmly and take the lead in an emergency
- sympathy and tact to deal with patients and relatives in distress
- emotional strength to cope with distressing situations; you can't be squeamish
- common sense and initiative
Pay and Opportunities
NHS employees are paid on a rising scale within defined pay bands, according to their skills and responsibilities.
- Starting - Band 3: £18,813 - £20,795
- With experience - Band 4: £21,089 - £23,761
Hours of work
You usually work 37.5 hours a week, which may include shifts, early starts, late finishes, weekend work and working on public holidays.
This career could include working on a
Where could I work?
Employers are NHS and private health company ambulance services.
Opportunities for Emergency Care Assistants occur in ambulance teams in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on the NHS Jobs website, on job boards, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Find a Job website, and in local newspapers.
Entry Routes and Training
Entry requirements for trainee positions vary between ambulance service trusts but you'll need a 'good general education'. Some trusts ask for 3 GCSEs or equivalent qualifications. Entry can also be possible for people who can demonstrate skills and knowledge gained through relevant work experience.
You will need a full manual driving licence. If you passed your driving test after 1996, you might need to take an extra driving qualification for larger passenger-carrying vehicles. Some services support people who need extra driving training; please check this with your local ambulance service trust.
An Intermediate Level Apprenticeship is a great place to start. Take a look at our information article
Training is through a six to nine week course. You will learn moving and handling techniques, first aid, basic patient skills and safe driving techniques. There are assessments and written exams.
You will then be at an ambulance station, working under the supervision of a trained Supervisor for a probationary period, before being allowed to work unsupervised.
After more training, experience and entrance exams, it might be possible to apply for a Student Paramedic position.
Previous experience working in a customer care role such as in a care home or in a hospital would be really useful for this career.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to.
This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.
To get onto an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need at least 2 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Entry can be possible for people who don't have qualifications but who can demonstrate relevant knowledge and skills gained through work experience.
You can enter and train through an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship in Health - Emergency Care Assistance.
- 13% of people in occupations such as emergency care assistant work part-time.
NHS Wales Careers
Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service HSC Trust
Northern Ireland Enquiries
Address: Site 30, Knockbracken Healthcare Park, Saintfield Road, Belfast BT8 8SG
Tel: 028 9040 0999
Scottish Ambulance Service
Address: Gyle Square, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9EB
Tel: 0131 3140000
Step into the NHS
Tel: 0345 6060655
Skills for Health
Skills for the health sector
Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 9221155
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844
The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust
St John Ambulance Cadets
Address: St John Ambulance, 27 St John's Lane, London EC1M 4BU
People Exchange Cymru (PEC)
Public sector recruitment portal for Wales