Paramedic: job description

Paramedic: job description

Paramedics provide patients that have been involved in accidents, emergencies or other crises with specialist care and treatment.
Paramedics need the ability to make swift decisions and stay calm.

What does a paramedic do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Typical duties of the job include:

  • driving and staffing ambulances and other emergency vehicles
  • responding to emergency 999 calls
  • assessing patients, providing emergency treatment and making diagnoses
  • monitoring and administering medication, pain relief and intravenous infusions
  • dressing wounds/injuries
  • using specialist equipment including ventilators and defibrillators
  • reading ECG
  • transporting patients to hospital and continuing to provide treatment while in transit
  • providing hospital staff with patient information including condition and treatment
  • helping provide patient care in hospitals and other medical facilities
  • communicating effectively with patients and their relatives/friends
  • teaching and training members of the public to use first aid techniques correctly

24-hour shift work (including weekends) is usually a standard requirement of the job.

Typical employers of paramedics

The National Health Service (NHS) employs most paramedics, although a number may also be employed by large organisations, or charitable bodies such as the St John Ambulance.

Jobs are advertised on the NHS Jobs website, via Ambulance Service Trusts and on the Paramedic Resource Centre's job listing page. A list of approved courses can be found on the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) website.

Qualifications and training required

To become a paramedic you will need to either take a job as a student paramedic with an ambulance service trust or study for an approved paramedic science course. Course lengths vary from 30 weeks full time to five years full time. Previous experience is not essential, but any gained caring for people (particularly the sick, elderly or disabled) can be helpful.

Key skills for paramedics

  • A caring and outgoing personality
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to make swift decisions and stay calm
  • A good level of physical fitness
  • Strong navigational skills
  • Resilience
  • Stamina

A full clean driving licence may also be a requirement of the job. You will also need a driving licence that includes the 'C1' category in order to drive an ambulance: if you passed your driving test after 1996 you may need to take a further driving qualification in order to gain this.