Emergency care assistant

Emergency care assistants (ECAs) work with paramedics as part of emergency ambulance crews attending 999 calls. 

Working life

An emergency care assistant responds to emergency calls alongside a paramedic, helping them to provide patients with potentially life-saving care and, where needed, getting patients to hospital. They attend every kind of accident and emergency, sometimes covering considerable distances, using expert emergency driving skills to get to the scene with the greatest speed possible. 


Under the direct supervision of the paramedic, you'll carry out essential emergency care, such as:

You will use a defibrillator to resuscitate patients with heart failure and will be trained to give a range of different drugs. 

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 who may be highly distressed or aggressive. 

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 staff from the other emergency services, including the fire and rescue 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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