Niesha Ballantyne - Relief Ambulance Care Assistant

I recently come home to Dundee after living away for a number of years working for the Ministry of Defense and latterly, the communications giant Vodafone. I was working for British Telecom and had been accepted at Dundee University to complete a Law Degree when my friend saw an advert for control room assistants. This looked interesting and I thought a career with the Service would be challenging, which it has been, so I gave up my place at University and have never looked back.

Career so far

I have been with the Service for 12 years and have held a number of positions

  • Planning and Day Control – Patient Transport Service (six months)  
  • Call Taking and Dispatching (two years)
  • Ambulance Airwing Control (two years)
  • Renal, Oncology and out patient driver (18 months)
  • Dundee Urgent Call Centre (two years)
  • Ambulance Care Assistant – current position (one year)


The Care Assistant course is now four weeks long and involves a one week driving course. There is a lot of content in the other three weeks from manual handling to conflict management, and there is a lot of emphasis on CPR.

Typical day

There is never really a 'typical day'. I work a relief post and I cover Renal vehicles, out patients, day hospitals, oncology and palliative, so most days are different. Each day starts with completing your vehicle check, ensuring you have supplies and that everything is in working order. We have log sheets that are printed off the previous night for our work that day so we set off to pick up our first run of patients. Control are just at the end of the radio if we encounter any problems such as needing assistance, address checks or anything else that occurs. One day you can be taking people to out patient appointments and the next you could be taking somebody home so they can spend their final days at home.

Job satisfaction

I enjoy lots of things about my job, mostly the variety of patients. They are all quite different and some of them have led some very interesting lives. You may be the only person a patient sees in a day, or longer, so it is crucial to have good listening skills. We are out in all weathers and confidence and care behind the wheel is a must as you will be required to manoeuvre the vehicle in some tight spots. It goes without saying I also enjoy a cup of coffee and my lunch break!

What next

I look forward to any positive changes that the service have in store for me, my career up to now has proven to be anything but mundane and I feel I have learned a lot during my various roles. Everyone I know has been here a long time; it is just not the environment for quick staff turnover. The 'newest' person I know has been here three years. The 'oldest' thirty seven years!