Find out about working at a St John Clinical Control Centre as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher.

A 111 call for an ambulance comes into one of three call receiving centres in New Zealand. St John manages the Clinical Control Centres in Auckland and Christchurch and is in a joint venture in the third Emergency Ambulance Communication Centre in Wellington, with Wellington Free Ambulance. These centres take calls and dispatch ambulances, emergency vehicles and air ambulance (helicopters) - for all of New Zealand.

They are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Clinical Control Centres are the first part of the St John Ambulance Service that responds to an emergency call. They are the vital link between those who need medical help and those who can provide it.

Our Clinical Control Centres are a critical part of the St John Ambulance Service

Our Clinical Control Centres are a critical part of the St John Ambulance Service

Two roles of equal importance

The role of an Emergency Medical Dispatcher is split into two key functions–call handling and dispatch. Emergency Medical Dispatchers are resilient, patient and caller focused, remain calm under pressure and can make decisions within policy and procedure. They save lives and minimise suffering every day.

What does a call handler do?

Emergency Medical Dispatchers working as call handlers are the voice at the end of the phone once you have called 111 and asked for “ambulance”. They utilise internationally proven tools to work through a specific order of questions to find out where you are, what has happened, and what you’re experiencing - all the while keeping you calm and capturing vital information. 

What does a dispatcher do?

It’s the dispatcher’s job to orchestrate and monitor the emergency medical response. This involves dispatching ambulances and other vehicles, tracking ambulance positions, liaising with other emergency services (Fire, Police), maintaining contact with all units on assignment and monitoring progress of the response. They operate a variety of communications equipment to do this, including radio consoles, telephones and computer systems. Dispatchers are the ultimate multi-taskers – they need to be able to do many things at once.

Dispatchers are the ultimate multi-taskers – they need to be able to do many things at once.

Dispatchers are the ultimate multi-taskers – they need to be able to do many things at once.

What makes a great ambulance communication centre team member?

Our people come from a variety of professions. Sometimes they have experience with other emergency response organisations, such as the Fire Service and Police; sometimes they come from a background in customer service or call centre work and sometimes they can be new to healthcare and new to the control centre environmen. Whatever their background, they all share these characteristics:

  • Can manage highly charged, emotional situations and resolve conflicts to achieve positive outcomes
  • Confidence and integrity
  • A high level of resilience
  • Effective peer relationship skills (team players)
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Good computer literacy and use skills
  • Familiar with Windows computing environment
  • Excellent communication and problem solving skills
  • Technical learning ability
  • Compassion, patience and great listening skills 

We use an Assessment Centre style of recruitment process that involves various assessments being done, interviews, testing and observation shifts within the ambulance communication centres before employment decisions are made.


Contact us for information
If you want to talk to our recruitment team about ambulance communications centre careers, call 0800 ST JOHN (0800 785 646) and ask to speak to a member of our recruitment team.


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