Air Ambulance Dispatcher
Devon Air Ambulance

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My name’s Chloe, and I’m one of the HEMS dispatchers

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for the South Western Ambulance Service. HEMS stands for helicopter

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emergency medical services, and we’re responsible for dispatching

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all of the air ambulance and critical care resources for the southwest of England.

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Our job involves listening in to 999 calls taken by a call handler

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in the control room, and we’re able to view all the details

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of these incidents and also listen in to live 999 calls.

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This helps us to make a decision whether or not to deploy an air ambulance

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or one of our critical care resources. The type of instance we would be looking

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to dispatch to are people who are not breathing, who’ve had serious trauma.

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This can be things like a road traffic collision, a fall from a height or an amputation

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We’ll also be looking to send to people who are seriously medically unwell.

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This could be people having a heart attack in a remote location,

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someone with serious breathing difficulties or fitting.

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When I was younger, I wanted to be a primary school teacher,

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so I left high school with my eleven GCSEs, went to college and did a BTEC

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National Diploma in child development. At the end of those two years

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I decided I no longer wanted to train to be a primary school teacher,

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and I was working full time in retail and quickly

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worked my way to a managerial role.

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I stayed doing this for seven years

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and decided then I needed a new challenge.

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I went off to work for a bank for a year

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and soon discovered that that was a big mistake.

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I wanted to do something that I felt like I was helping people.

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And also, I wanted to buy my first house, so I needed something where I could work

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and possibly do overtime to save money, to buy my first house.

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So I applied for a job at the ambulance service

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as a call handler and started four weeks later.

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I worked as a call handler for about twelve months,

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and in that time I saw lots of different roles.

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And one that caught my eye was the HEMS dispatcher role.

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I managed to organize an observational shift on the HEMS desk

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and quickly learned it was a very specialist role

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and loved how they worked very closely with all of the air ambulance charities.

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I got to see that they help the poorliest patients

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and made such a difference to their outcomes

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and knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of.

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Shortly after this, the opportunity came up to apply for a position on the HEMS desk as a HEMS dispatcher.

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So I applied and got offered a position

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that was seven years ago.

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Our job can be quite unpredictable, no two days are the same.

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And at times can be extremely busy.

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This will require us to dispatch multiple critical care resources at any one time,

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so we need to

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stay calm under pressure and have good organization

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and communication skills with our other colleagues on the HEMS desk.


Chloe is a helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) dispatcher – she listens to live 999 calls in the control room and decides whether to send an air ambulance or other critical care resources. After a BTEC in child development, she worked in retail for seven years, before leaving to work for a bank, a move she describes as ‘a big mistake’. Motivated by the idea of helping people and the prospect of overtime, she applied for job as a call handler with the ambulance service, before securing her current role.

More information about Call and contact centre occupations

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

45%  male 
55%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Workers in this unit group receive and respond to telephone calls from potential clients and existing customers regarding the products and services offered by an organisation.
There are no formal academic entry requirements, although many employers expect candidates to possess GCSEs/S grades. Training is typically provided on-the-job, supplemented by specialist short courses.
  • Answers incoming telephone calls from existing or prospective customers;
  • Interviews caller to establish the nature of any complaint or the requirements of the client;
  • Informs existing and potential customers on any immediate action to be taken, and refers the matter to a more senior member of staff if necessary;
  • Advises on services available and sells additional products or services;
  • Maintains details of calls received, the action taken as a result of a call and updates customer database as required;
  • Arranges for field staff to visit the caller if further assistance is required.
Employment by region
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Office admin. 22826
Retail trade 18383
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Financial services 9895
Electricity, gas, etc 7068
Wholesale trade 5972
Employment activities 5549
Auxiliary  services 4640
Public admin. & defence 4563
Employment status

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