Ambulance Care Assistant
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Ambulance Care Assistants (ACA), transport non-emergency patients to and from hospital for pre-arranged appointments. They also work to discharge, transfer and admit patients. Working for the Patient Transport Service, they help patients in and out of the ambulance and take them to their appointment. Afterwards the patient is driven back to their home, and the care assistant will ensure they are settled in before leaving. Many of the people care assistants deal with are frail, elderly, physically disabled or have mental health problems. They are likely to be worried and nervous and need to be treated with kindness and patience.
Throughout the working day staff are in regular contact with the control room, who update the crews of any change in appointments etc. to make sure that the crews are running to time. Their work involves a lot of heavy lifting, carrying and bending. Ambulance Care Assistants are responsible for the routine maintenance of their vehicle and its equipment.
Some ambulance services in Britain have an ACA grade known as Urgent-Tier. These staff will drive A & E ambulances and will partner with a Paramedic or Technician. Their role will involve the transport to hospital of Urgent (as opposed to Emergency) cases and they will usually provide inter-hospital transfers where the patients condition requires a higher degree of clinical care than a regular ACA can provide. This position requires successful completion of an emergency driving course, equal to that which Emergency crews must pass. The Urgent-Tier crew also can be called to attend emergency calls as first responding crew when no other crews are available.
Skills and interests
In order to become an ambulance care assistant, you will need:
a warm, outgoing, caring personality the ability to work with all types of people to enjoy helping people good driving skills and a full clean driving licence a strong sense of responsibility and a serious attitude to work good organisational skills to enjoy being part of a team physical and emotional stamina.
In general, to work as an ambulance care assistant you need:
to be over 18 years of age (21 in some services) to hold a full, usually clean, driving licence for at least one year, sometimes two - if you passed your test after 1996, you may need an extra driving qualification to satisfy the selection criteria set by the local ambulance service you are applying to - this may include testing your driving skills and knowledge of the Highway Code to have a medical assessment to make sure you are physically fit and have good eyesight. You also need a good general standard of education, and some ambulance services ask for a minimum of four GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) in English, maths and a science-based subject. Equivalent qualifications may be accepted; check with your local ambulance service.
Once accepted into a service, you take a two to four week training course which involves:
improving your driving skills developing moving and handling techniques first aid basic emergency accident management (in some services) administering oxygen therapy. You are tested by continuous assessment and also take written and practical examinations.
If you reach the required standards you are attached to an ambulance station and work under the guidance of a trained supervisor for a probationary period before working unsupervised.
Working as an Ambulance Care Assistant is the established route to a career as an Ambulance Technician, and ultimately to Paramedic. However progression in this way is no longer possible through some local ambulance trusts.