Paramedics are qualified healthcare professionals who provide an immediate response to accidents and medical emergencies. Due to their nature, these situations are likely to involve people who are badly hurt and severely traumatised.  Paramedics are also trained to undertake the assessment and management of a range of less serious illness and injury and often provide care to people in their own homes.

Paramedics may work with an Ambulance Technician in a two-person ambulance crew at the scene of a medical emergency. They assess the patient and provide essential treatment to resuscitate and stabilise them prior to hospital admission. This could include:

  • controlling bleeding
  • giving oxygen and pain relief medication
  • using a defibrillator
  • spinal immobilisation and splinting limbs
  • setting up intravenous drips

As the senior healthcare professionals at the scene of an incident, Paramedics may also work alongside the Police, the Fire Service, Coast Guard and other teams from the NHS.

Some Paramedics work alone and use an emergency response car, a motorbike or bicycle to reach the patient. Depending on the nature of the emergency, they may need to call for backup from an ambulance or other emergency services.

As a Paramedic, you would provide a high level of care to patients involved in an accident or emergency, such as:

  • victims of a road traffic accident who have multiple or severe injuries
  • a person who has suffered a stroke or heart attack
  • an elderly person who has fallen down the stairs
  • a very sick baby being moved to a specialist centre

Paramedics respond to medical emergencies, liaising with control room staff to provide location and status updates on the patient’s condition. You would also work closely with Nurses and Doctors, explaining the patients’ illness or injuries, as well as any medication administered, as they are transferred into their care.

Some of the typical tasks you would carry out as a Paramedic include:

  • responding to 999 medical emergency calls
  • providing an immediate course of treatment in a pre-hospital environment, such as the scene of an accident
  • using equipment such as defibrillators and ventilators to resuscitate and stabilise patients
  • Providing care to patients with non-life threatening illness or injury in their own home, sometimes referring them on to other healthcare professionals for follow-up care
  • cleaning, decontaminating and checking ambulance vehicles and equipment to ensure operational readiness and adherence to Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) protocols
  • assessing and monitoring the patient’s condition
  • making clinical decisions about the appropriate treatment options for patients with exacerbations of long-term medical conditions who present with urgent medical needs
  • dressing wounds, applying splints, administering pain relief and carrying out some surgical procedures in emergency and urgent situations

To become a Paramedic useful skills include:

  • technical and practical skills, with an excellent attention to detail
  • decision-making skills
  • a full manual driving licence and excellent driving skills
  • strong communication skills
  • teamworking skills
  • committed to the wellbeing of patients
  • good level of physical fitness

Useful abilities include:

  • the ability to work under pressure or in challenging situations
  • the ability to work quickly and carefully
  • being able to understand and interpret difficult situations quickly
  • being prepared to go into unpredictable situations
  • being able to use equipment and machinery

Qualified Paramedics are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

To train to become a Paramedic with the Scottish Ambulance Service, you must first qualify as an Ambulance Technician. You will then be able to apply to train as a Paramedic, where vacancies are available.

The Scottish Ambulance Academy, which is run by the Scottish Ambulance Service and based in the School of Health at Glasgow Caledonian University, provides training for all Paramedic students employed by the service. Find out more about Paramedic training on the Scottish Ambulance Service website.

Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG)

Paramedics may be required to work with children, vulnerable adults or frail people in their role. Therefore you'll need evidence of your good health and character, and background checks, such as the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme managed by Disclosure Scotland, will be carried out.

Once qualified as a paramedic and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), you can join the College of Paramedics.

During your career, you'll have to keep your skills and knowledge up to date with annual Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The College of Paramedics is one group that provides the opportunities for post-registered paramedics to develop their clinical, educational, managerial, and research abilities during their career.

The service will also support you to keep your skills and knowledge up to date with yearly ‘learning in practice’ training and access to CPD opportunities within the service and with other partner agencies such as the fire service and NHS retrieval teams.

Qualified Paramedics working in the Scottish Ambulance Service start on band 6 of the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. With further training and experience, Paramedics can progress to Clinical, Educational or Management roles.  

You could choose to join one of the service's specialist teams, such as working on an Air Ambulance, working with the Specialist Operations Response Team, or as part of an ‘out of hours’ urgent care team.

Find out more information from these professional and regulatory bodies:

Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC is an independent, UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards for health, psychological, and in England; social work professionals. It maintains a public register of qualified professionals and works to improve industry standards and education. Visit the HCPC website to find out more.

College of Paramedics

The College of Paramedics is the professional body for paramedics and the ambulance profession in the UK. It represents over 8,000 members who are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and students training to become a Paramedic. More information is available on the College of Paramedics website.