Emergency care assistant

Emergency care assistants are part of the team at emergency scenes working with paramedics.

Working life

An emergency care assistant (ECA) responds to emergency calls as part of an ambulance service team. They usually work with a qualified practitioner, such as a paramedic or senior paramedic, carrying out emergency care at the scene. This could include:


ECAs help to move patients safely and observe vital signs (breathing, temperature, blood pressure, etc) reporting any changes to the qualified clinician. They use medical and life support equipment carried on vehicles. Sometimes, the ECA looks after the patient during the journey to hospital. In other cases, the ECA drives the emergency vehicle, often in a blue light situation.

ECAs have to respond to any emergency situation. Many emergencies are likely to be distressing and involve people who are badly hurt and severely traumatised. For example:

ECAs take relevant information from carers or others at the scene. There may be other people nearby who are upset or angry.

As well as driving emergency vehicles, ECAs check their vehicle at the start of and during each shift, to make sure they are clean, have fuel and are stocked with the right supplies. Other duties include completing paperwork and using communication equipment (radios and telephones) to speak to colleagues.

As well as working with paramedics, ECAs work with other members of the ambulance service, such as control room staff. They also work with doctors and with the other emergency services, including the fire service and police.

Training and development

All ambulance service trusts offer initial training for new ECAs, usually around six to nine weeks. This covers:

Training includes practical assessments and written exams. Once you have passed these tests, you are allocated to an ambulance station. You work under the guidance of a trained supervisor before working unsupervised.  

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