what is a call handler?

Call handlers often work in-house for a specific hospital or central emergency response teams in police stations or public healthcare facilities. Since you are the first link between a patient and healthcare services, you need to be reassuring and calm under pressure. You also need to be intuitive since you determine if the caller requires an ambulance car or a medical evacuation helicopter.

what do call handlers do?

As a call handler, you work in ambulance control rooms, taking phone calls from patients in various locations. Your job is to record all patient location and condition details and inform the emergency response teams. When you have exact information on the response time of the emergency team, you can inform the patient. Sometimes, you have to guide the caller through first aid to perform on the patient as they wait for help. Many situations require you to guide someone through performing CPR or clearing an obstruction from the airways.

Working as a call handler is emotionally involving, and you need to empathise with people's situations to help them appropriately. Concealing your emotions is vital in the role since you will deal with angry or upset callers, and you need to provide the best services despite their attitude.

Would working as a call handler suit your interest in helping people? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a call handler role.

call handler jobs

average salary of a call handler

According to National Careers, a call handler receives a median salary of £20,329 per year. With experience and additional skills, your earnings can increase to £24,881 annually.

If you work for the National Health Service (NHS), your salary is determined by the Agenda For Change, which uses fixed pay bands. A call handler's salary begins at Band 3, with a salary range of £21,709 and £23,603 per year.

Apart from your basic salary, you enjoy various benefits, including medical and life insurance. You also enjoy multiple perks, such as paid holidays and contributions to pension schemes. You can increase your earnings through overtime work, which pays higher rates.

what factors influence the salary of a call handler?

The compensation package of a call handler varies depending on the experience and skill level. At entry-level, your minimal work experience attracts a lower salary, but as you gain experience, your pay scale rises. Having additional certifications also boosts your salary prospects. If you have a certificate in performing CPR and other first-aid courses, you receive higher pay. Working for 999 emergency response teams sometimes pays a higher salary than 111 NHS response teams, which pay through bands. Hospitals with an in-house dispatch team for emergency responses also pay more than jobs in the wider public sector. Your location influences your earnings. For instance, working as a call handler in London attracts a higher salary due to the workload.


Computer person
Computer person

types of call handlers

Some types of call handlers include:

  • 999 call handlers: you work in the ambulance operation centre and receive 999 calls. Your job is to record patients' details and log them into the systems so they can receive help. Sometimes, the calls you receive aren't related to sickness, and you forward them to relevant authorities.
  • 111 call handlers: most callers use the 111 NHS service in emergency medical situations. Your job is to advise the caller on what to do. You don't have to dispatch an ambulance if the patient can get to the hospital. Sometimes, you give patients options on the healthcare facilities in their area.
  • patient transport service call handler: your job is to help vulnerable and frail patients get to their medical appointments by organising transport. You book transportation for non-emergency dispatches, transfers and admissions.

working as a call handler

As a call handler, your job involves talking to different patients in emergencies and helping them get through the situation calmly. You also ensure people receive help promptly and even save lives. Let's explore some of the tasks and daily duties of a call handler.


education and skills

Some of the educational requirements for becoming a call handler include:

  • college: medical knowledge isn't a requirement for call handlers, but you need excellent typing and computing skills to land a job. Consider pursuing a Level 2 ECDL Award in IT User Skills or Award in Touch Typing. You can also complete short courses in first aid or emergency response to improve your competitiveness.
  • apprenticeship: you can join the call handler profession through an advanced apprenticeship. Opportunities in emergency service contact handling are always available for anyone above 18 years with GCSE grades 9 to 4.

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities you need as a call handler include:

  • customer service skills: as a call handler, you need exceptional customer service skills to ensure callers receive the best care. Customer service skills help you remain calm and speak professionally even when the caller is agitated. You also have to stay patient in stressful situations.
  • empathy: as a call handler, you have to be sensitive and mindful of other people's feelings. Empathy helps you understand their situation better and ensure they receive the best care.
  • computing skills: as a call handler, you need computer skills to handle basic tasks like recording phone calls or logging them into the dispatch systems. Fast-typing skills also come in handy in your role.
  • attention to detail: call handlers must be detail-oriented to ensure emergency teams reach the correct destination. Attention to detail helps you enter the right location and patients' conditions.



FAQs about working as a call handler

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.