Ambulance drivers work for hospitals or ambulance services transporting sick, injured or convalescent people. They must efficiently navigate through traffic while maintaining the safety of their passengers and the public. Ambulance drivers assist with loading and unloading patients and may administer first aid or CPR when necessary. They are also responsible for the maintenance, safety and cleanliness of their vehicle.
Duties and responsibilities
- Safely transport sick, injured or convalescent patients to medical appointments or hospital emergency room
- Navigate traffic efficiently along quickest route, while maintaining passenger and public safety
- Load and unload patients from vehicle, coordinating with caregivers and medical personnel
- Place patients onto stretchers when necessary and load into ambulance, with assistance from other attendants
- Assist emergency medical technicians (EMTs) on calls
- Administer first aid, including bandages, splints and oxygen
- Administer CPR if needed
- Restrain violent patients when necessary
- Maintain operation, cleanliness and safety of ambulance
- Keep ambulance stocked with supplies, and ensure sanitary conditions for patients and staff
- Report on patient's condition to caregivers and medical staff when required
- Give facts on accidents or emergencies to law enforcement and hospital personnel
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Nights, weekends and holidays
Many ambulance drivers work full time. Those who work for ambulance services transporting non-emergency patients typically have a more conventional schedule. Early morning or evening hours may be required.
Ambulance drivers that assist EMTs and paramedics on calls may work a more variable schedule. This can include nights, weekends and holidays. Shifts can rotate in 12- or 24-hour increments.
Like all medical personnel, ambulance drivers can be exposed to health risks such as violent patients or contagious diseases. Extreme stress, lifting injuries and traffic accidents are also possible. Following all protocols and safety procedures will help reduce risk.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Qualifications for ambulance drivers vary by state and employer. All require a high school diploma, and most require some form of basic life support (BLS) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. Your state or local government may also require an emergency vehicle operator course (EVOC).
You must have a valid driver's licence and clean driving record when hired, and maintain both to keep your job. Some states require a special designation on your licence for ambulance driving.
Ambulance drivers that accompany emergency service personnel may also be required to have basic EMT certification. Community colleges, universities and technical schools offer certification programmes that typically take less than a year to complete.
Ambulance drivers may begin their careers as part-time help or for non-emergency services. Extended experience can lead to roles with more responsibility and higher pay.
Many drivers become EMTs and, with an associate's degree and further training, progress to the role of paramedic. You may also consider transitioning to related healthcare roles, such as a registered nurse.