Emergency medical dispatchers respond to urgent calls made to the control center, take information about the emergency situation, the address and other details and dispatch the nearest ambulance or paramedic helicopter.
Excludes people performing patients treatment.
Excludes people performing assistance in medical treatment.
Emergency medical dispatchers typically do the following:
- keep the caller calm to find out the location, details of what happened and condition of the patient
- give first aid advice to people facing life-threating situations
- decide which crew and vehicles to dispatch based on the situation and who is nearest
- contact the crew and pass on essential information
- create a record of calls
The following job titles also refer to emergency medical dispatcher:
ambulance services dispatcher
dispatcher of emergency medical vehicles
emergency call operator
emergency call handler
emergency medical services dispatcher
dispatcher of emergency medical services
control room worker
Emergency medical dispatchers usually have on-the-job training that can last a few days to a few months. An example training program usually ends in a certificate, degree or post-program license. Due to the nature of job, many programs have prerequisites. For example, some programs require individuals to pass certain exams or have certain experience in an area.
Additionally, EMDs may be required to be certified or licensed for work. The type of certification or licensing needed varies state-to-state and may not be as stringent in one location as in another.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Emergency medical dispatcher is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Emergency medical dispatcher career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to emergency medical dispatcher.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of emergency medical dispatcher. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of emergency medical dispatcher with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of emergency medical dispatcher.
- Local geography: The range of physical and geographical properties and descriptions of a local area, by street names and not only.
- Medical dispatch: The concepts of a medical dispatch system and its use which consists in performing criteria based medical dispatch, answering emergency calls, and operating computer aided dispatch systems.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of emergency medical dispatcher.
- Communicate verbal instructions: Communicate transparent instructions. Ensure that messages are understood and followed correctly.
- Work in multidisciplinary teams related to emergency care: Work with a variety of people from various health care and non-health care services such as ambulance control room staff, paramedics, doctors and nurses, as well as people working in the fire and police department.
- Dispatch ambulance: Send the appropriate emergency response vehicle to the indicated location in order to offer support to individuals who find themselves in life-threatening situations.
- Support distressed emergency callers: Provide emotional support and guidance to emergency callers, helping them to cope with the distressing situation.
- Answer emergency calls: Take calls from individuals who find themselves in life threating situations and who require assistance.
- Personnel planning in emergency response: Planning of personnel to be dispatched to emergency locations in either medical, fire or police operations.
- Manage dispatch software systems: Manage dispatch software systems to execute tasks such as work order generation, route planning, and other activities.
- Comply with quality standards related to healthcare practice: Apply quality standards related to risk management, safety procedures, patients feedback, screening and medical devices in daily practice, as they are recognized by the national professional associations and authorities.
- Provide advice to emergency callers: Provide technical or practical advice to emergency callers prior to the arrival of the ambulance.
- Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
- Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
- Adhere to organisational guidelines: Adhere to organisational or department specific standards and guidelines. Understand the motives of the organisation and the common agreements and act accordingly.
- Log emergency call information electronically: Register the information received from emergency callers into a computer for further processing or record keeping purposes.
- Tolerate stress: Maintain a temperate mental state and effective performance under pressure or adverse circumstances.
- Operate an emergency communication system: Efficiently operate common communication systems used in emergencies, such as base station mobile transmitters and receivers, portable transmitters and receivers, repeaters, cellular phones, pagers, automated vehicle locators, and satellite phones as required.
- Prioritise emergencies: Determine the level of risk of an emergency situation and balance the dispatch of ambulances to emergency situations accordingly.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of emergency medical dispatcher. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Customer service: Processes and principles related to the customer, client, service user and to personal services; these may include procedures to evaluate customer’s or service user’s satisfaction.
- Health care legislation: The patients` rights and responsibilities of health practitioners and the possible repercussions and prosecutions in relation to medical treatment negligence or malpractice.
- Medical terminology: The meaning of medical terms and abbreviations, of medical prescriptions and various medical specialties and when to use it correctly.
- Professional documentation in health care: The written standards applied in the health care professional environments for documentation purposes of one`s activity.
- Health care system: The structure and function of health care services.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of emergency medical dispatcher. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Show intercultural awareness: Show sensibility towards cultural differences by taking actions which facilitate positive interaction between international organisations, between groups or individuals of different cultures, and to promote integration in a community.
- Observe confidentiality: Observe the set of rules establishing the nondisclosure of information except to another authorised person.
- Communicate in foreign languages with health service providers: Apply foreign languages in communicating with health service providers such as doctors and nurses.
- Coordinate with other emergency services: Coordinate the firefighters’ work with the activities of the emergency medical services and of the police.
ISCO group and title
4223 – Telephone switchboard operators
- Emergency medical dispatcher – ESCO
- Emergency medical dispatcher | Explore careers – National Careers Service
- Emergency Medical Dispatcher: Career Profile, Job Outlook and Education Requirements – Learn.org
- Featured image: By I, Pöllö, CC BY 2.5