Shadowing a Doctor

December 15, 2015


The primary focus of an Ambulance Service Team is two-fold: The first is to reach people in emergency situations as quickly as possible and administer life-saving first-aid on the spot. The second is to transport the sick or injured patient as quickly as possible to the appropriate healthcare facility for further care.

The team consists of those who those who provide direct patient care, and those work in the control room, taking calls and dispatching vehicles and teams. The different members of the team work together to ensure that patients who are seriously ill or injured get to the hospital where they can receive the care they need.

Within the Ambulance Service Team, there are four main roles:


The paramedic is usually the first to arrive at the scene of the emergency – by bicycle, motorbike or car. At the scene, they work quickly to evaluate the situation and administer the necessary treatment, taking care of the patient until the ambulance arrives.

Some paramedics work alone and others work with an emergency care assistant. Depending on the nature of the emergency and the condition of the patient, the paramedic may treat the patient on the spot and ensure that they’re in stable enough condition to return home, or they may treat the patient in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Senior paramedic

A senior paramedic is an experienced paramedic who has undergone additional training that qualifies them to take further tests and make major decisions with regards to administering advanced treatment. For example, a senior paramedic can do a urine or blood test, prescribe medications or refer the patient to another agency if necessary.

Emergency care assistant

An emergency care assistant works together with paramedics and senior paramedics. While they are not qualified to work alone, they provide valuable assistance at the scene of the emergency or accident. They help paramedics and senior paramedics with moving the patient, monitoring the patients’ vital signs such as blood pressure and breathing, controlling bleeding and dressing wounds. They also drive emergency ambulances when necessary.

Emergency medical dispatcher

Emergency medical dispatchers (or call handlers) work tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure all emergency calls are attended to quickly and efficiently. They are the calm, reassuring, efficient voices who answer the 999 calls in the ambulance control room and take details about the emergency and the location. Depending on the situation, they may give first aid advice over the phone and decide on which type of response is most appropriate for the emergency. Accordingly they may despatch a rapid response motorcycle, car, helicopter or ambulance.

Quick thinking, excellent analytical skills, good communication skills and knowledge of a broad range of life-saving techniques are essential attributes for anyone wishing to work in this fast-paced specialty.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.