Different Types of Medical Qualification


Different Types of Medical Qualification

When event organizers and the general public see an ambulance arrive on-site, usually just before an event is due to start, it is understandably presumed by the organizers that the ambulance crew will be insured, knowledgeable, experienced, well-qualified, fully-equipped and therefore capable of managing a wide range of injuries and acute medical conditions. However, unfortunately, that is not always the case because anyone in the UK can buy an ambulance and some green uniforms and call themselves an ‘event medical provider’.

Therefore, before you book any event medical provider for any event or assignment, it is extremely important that you are fully aware of the really important differences between different types of medical qualification. In addition, you should ask all potential event medical providers to give you full written details with regard to the actual qualifications and experience of the personnel they intend to supply for your event so you can make an informed decision.

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All medical doctors used on events must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) and have medical indemnity covering them to work outside their usual practice. It may also be required or recommended by some organizations (e.g. British Eventing) that all event doctors have been trained in pre-hospital emergency care and hold qualifications such as PreHospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS), Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) and/or be members of the British Association of Immediate Care (BASICS) etc.



HCPC registered Paramedics work in emergency and non-emergency situations using their judgment and clinical skills to access a patient’s condition and make life-saving decisions if necessary. They are trained to resuscitate and stabilize patients using sophisticated techniques, equipment and a variety of drugs. Most Paramedics have a degree. Paramedic science courses usually take between three or four years to complete.

All Paramedics who work in the UK, regardless of whether they work in the private sector and/or National Health Service and/or on a voluntary basis, are legally required to be registered with the Health Care and Professions Council (HCPC). This ensures a standard of training and expertise in the prehospital management of sick and injured people. *It is illegal for anyone without the HCPC registration to call themselves a “Paramedic”.

Therefore, if you are responsible for an event that needs one or more Paramedics, you should check the registration of your Paramedic by visiting to www.hcpc-uk.org/check-the-register Simply search the HCPC database using the name or registration number of the paramedic you want To check. If your event requires a Paramedic he or she must be on this register to be allowed to work in the UK.


The majority of ‘IHCD Ambulance Technicians’ were trained in an NHS ambulance service and are used to working with HCPC registered Paramedics and by themselves. The most widely recognized qualification for an IHCD ambulance technician is the Institute of Healthcare Development (IHCD) ambulance technician qualification that is used by every NHS ambulance service. There has, unfortunately, been a move away from the IHCD award over the last few years. However IHCD Ambulance Technicians are high respected.

IHCD Ambulance Technicians are very knowledgeable and competent people who usually have a lot of experience – so they are really useful people to have on any event. However, unfortunately, the words “ambulance technician” are not a legally “protected title” (e.g. like ‘medical doctor’ or ‘Paramedic’ or ‘Registered Nurse’) and it is not against the law for anyone to call themselves an ‘ambulance technician’ (or any other similar title!) without any training, experience or medical qualifications!!! If you are responsible for booking medical cover for an event, or another type of assignment, always ask to see the necessary certificates before you book any event event provider.


The UK also has no legal definition with regard to the title “Emergency Medical Technician”. This means that, unfortunately, there is absolutely NO legal requirement for any “EMT” to have any experience or any nationally recognized and respected medical qualification at all!

Over the years many new job titles have been introduced including “Emergency Care Assistant” (ECA) and “Ambulance Care Assistant” (ACA). In addition there are “Emergency Care Support Workers” (ECSWs). Various courses are available for the aforementioned job descriptions. Some of the courses are respected and some are not. However it should be remembered that the role of all EMTʼs, ACA’s, ECAʼs and ECSWʼs is to provide support to qualified healthcare professionals.


The FREC suite of prehospital care courses (i.e. FREC Levels 3, 4 and 5) have become extremely popular and respected since they were first launched by Qualsafe Awards. This may well be because FREC pre-hospital care qualifications are now recognized by the Health Care and Professions Council as an approved vocational route to become a Paramedic in the UK – i.e. Level 6.

The QA Level 3 Certificate in First Response Emergency Care course is a regulated and nationally recognized pre-hospital care qualification that has been developed as a result of a partnership between Qualsafe Awards and the Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh who clinically endorse the qualification.

The FREC Level 3 course takes 153 HOURS in total to achieve including a 40-hour classroom course and 113 hours of self-directed learning. In contrast the First Aid at Work course, to be a Qualified First Aider, takes only 18 hours to complete and covers basic first aid in the workplace only.

Therefore, event organizers who book basic ‘first aiders’ to cover their event (usually just to save money) should be fully aware of the fact that ‘First Response Emergency Care’ trained people are significantly better to use for event medical cover work – not least because the FREC suite of courses are about out-of-hospital care rather than first aid in the workplace.

All FREC courses focus on the management of injuries and acute conditions that occur out-of-hospital, often in difficult working environments, and include topics, medical kit and skills that are not included on FAW courses.


Great care must be taken when using “first aiders” for your event!

Unfortunately, some years ago, the Health & Safety Executive stopped inspecting and monitoring all First Aid at Work trainers, assessors and FAW training courses in general. The fact that training providers and instructors are not officially checked or monitored, as they used, to be means that First Aid training courses can legally be delivered by almost anyone regardless of the qualifications or experience of the “trainer”!

It is legally the responsibility of individual companies to find a ‘training provider’ who is willing to deliver a ‘FAW training course’ and issue certificates to the attendees. This means that, regrettably and not unsurprisingly, many businesses use the cheapest trainers they can get (with little or no experience and limited medical knowledge) to deliver a first aid course – just to save money and/or because they think they are getting good value for money.

The fact is that numerous so-called “first aid trainers” deliver courses without any medical qualifications or real-life experience – so the situation is potentially dangerous from a patient care and/or event medical cover point of view – when basic “Qualified First Aiders” are expected to manage serious medical incidents that are well beyond their capabilities.

A brief look at various Facebook ‘first aid trainer’ groups highlights the above problem. Many so-called ‘trainers’ believe that medical training (at different levels) can easily be delivered by people who do not have the necessary qualifications, knowledge and experience! Our company view is that anyone can read about how to drive a car but, if someone has never driven a car themselves, they should not be allowed to teach advanced driving to anyone!

However some “First aiders” do attend a properly regulated one-day Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) or a three-day First Aid at Work (FAW) course that is delivered by a qualified instructor who delivers a course on behalf of one of the VAS organizations or a respected Awarding Organization. However, even if people have been trained for a few hours to give basic first aid, they may not be suitable for your event – due to potential ‘mechanisms of injury’ that occur at some sports events etc.

Generally speaking ‘Qualified First Aiders’ and EFAW’s are only trained to perform Basic Life Support (BLS) and manage minor injuries and conditions. Many QFA’s and EFAW’s may not be able to manage a significant injury and/or an acute life-threatening medical condition without immediate professional assistance. This means that Alpha Medical Group only use ‘First Aider” if they are properly supervised by one or more people with more experience and much higher medical qualifications.