Ambulance Driver and Attendant (not EMT)

Ambulance Attendant, Ambulance Driver   More Names
Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians, Ambulance Operations Supervisor, Certified Emergency Vehicle Technician (CEV Technician), Chair Car Driver, Class B Driver, CPR Ambulance Driver (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation Ambulance Driver), Driver Medic, Emergency Care Attendant (ECA), Emergency Medical Vehicle Operator, Emergency Vehicle Operations Instructor, Emergency Vehicle Operator, Emergency Vehicle Technician, EMS Driver (Emergency Medical Services Driver), EMS First Responder (Emergency Medical Services First Responder), EMS Medic (Emergency Medical Services Medic), First Responder, Hospital Carrier, Medic Technician, Medical Van Driver (Medi-Van Driver), Mobile Health Vehicle Operator, Mobile Medical Van Advanced Practitioner, Patient Carrier, Transport Medic, Vehicle Operator Technician, Wheelchair Van Operator First Responder

Drive ambulances and assist in transporting sick, injured, or recovering persons. Help place patients on stretchers and lift and load them into ambulances, often with assistance from other attendants. May administer first aid including bandaging, splinting, and administering oxygen. May help restrain or shackle violent patients. When performing their duties, they must be ready to make quick and correct decisions in a calm and deliberate way.

Most ambulance drivers and attendants work for private, for-profit ambulance companies or local, state, or federal government agencies. They often are called upon to transport individuals in emergency, life-threatening situations, such as a sudden severe illness or injuries from a traffic accident. To respond quickly, accurately and safely, they need to be mentally alert and physically fit, and have specialized driver and first-aid training. They also need to be able to read and understand a map as well as accurately follow Global Positioning System (GPS) directions.

When responding to calls to provide emergency or non-emergency medical transportation for individuals, ambulance drivers often are accompanied by attendants who help with the patients. Attendants who are not specially-trained as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics help with patient movement and restraint, but usually are limited to basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if medical treatment required.

By comparison, EMTs and paramedics have the special training needed to administer a much broader range of emergency diagnostic and treatment procedures. The EMT and Paramedic career is described in greater detail under a separate career profile on this website.

Ambulance drivers usually travel short to medium distances, from persons' residences to hospitals, from nursing homes to medical appointments, or from the scene of an accident to an emergency room. In cases where nursing home patients have doctors or other medical appointments, they wait for the patients and drive them back afterwards. In many cases, they make a one-way trip and, after dropping off a sick or injured person for medical care, they prepare to respond to their next call. As required by their employers and local authorities, ambulance drivers will verbally report facts concerning accidents or emergencies to hospital staff, law enforcement officers, or fire fighters. They also may be required to produce written reports of such incidents, and to keep a daily log of their travel. At all times, they need to know and obey local and state traffic laws and other transportation safety rules.

In between driving runs, ambulance drivers ensure that their emergency vehicle is properly equipped and supplied. They remove and replace soiled linens and also clean the ambulance interior and equipment to restore sanitary conditions. They also replace supplies and throw away items as needed. In addition, they check to see that their vehicle remains in good operating condition and report any mechanical problems to their company or agency ambulance service technicians. As with others who care for and treat the sick or injured, ambulance drivers need to listen carefully and give full attention to what persons are saying, and then speak clearly and accurately to provide information. They also need to be able to use blood pressure recording units, gurneys and scissor lifts, and other ambulance equipment.

Because ambulance drivers and attendants work closely with emergency medical technicians (EMTs), obtaining the training and certification to become a Basic EMT (EMT-1) is often the next step on a healthcare career pathway. With more education and training, a Basic EMT can become certified as an Intermediate EMT (EMT-2) or Paramedic (EMT-3). Further options along this pathway can include becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN).

Beginning in 2012 and continuing over the next several years, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) is phasing-in new training and re-training requirements plus new titles for EMTs and paramedics. As a result of these changes, the new titles and structure will be Emergency Medical Responder (NREMR), Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (NRAEMT), and Paramedic (NPR). More detailed information about these new EMT and Paramedic titles and training requirements is provided under the separate career profile for EMT and Paramedic on this website.

Credentials Needed: All ambulance drivers need to have a valid "regular" driver license from the state in which they are resident and have a good driving record. They must meet an age standard, be in good health, and have no criminal background of history of alcohol or substance abuse. They also should complete a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) class and become certified.

To drive an ambulance used commercially in emergency service, individuals also will need to meet any other special requirements for ambulance drivers in the state. In many states meeting such requirements will result in some form of Ambulance Driver Certificate. To find out what is required in your state to obtain an Ambulance Driver Certificate, contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The following example from the State of California shows the kinds of special requirements that may be required to earn an Ambulance Driver Certificate (ADC) to operate a commercial emergency service vehicle: (1) Be at least 18 years of age; (2) Hold a valid California driver license; (3) Pay the application fee; (4) Pass the Ambulance Driver written exam; (5) Be fingerprinted for criminal background; (6) Obtain a medical evaluation report. By the time a California ambulance driver is up for the first renewal of their ADC, they also must have a valid Emergency Medical Technician I (EMT-1) certificate.

Some Key Things to Remember: Most ambulance drivers and attendants work for private, for-profit ambulance companies or for local, state, or federal government agencies. Ambulance drivers must have a valid state driver's license and meet other special ambulance driver requirements as determined by their state DMV. Employers look for responsible individuals with a good driving record, who are in good health, and have no criminal background and no history of alcohol or substance abuse. Ambulance driver or attendant can be a solid first step on a healthcare career ladder with training to become an EMT or paramedic a common next step.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
33% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $20,720 - $28,910    Hourly: $10 - $14
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

To become an ambulance driver, however, each State's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will have vision and eye test standards that must be met in order to obtain a driver's license. Ambulance drivers and attendants must also have sufficient physical strength and conditioning to be able lift patients on to stretchers and to load them into ambulances.

Legal Requirements
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Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

High School or GED (HS)
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Percent Job Growth:

33% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $20,720 - $28,910

Hourly: $10 - $14