Join Us…Join Us…

It would appear that the LAS is starting to recruit a few more people.  How do I know this?  Well a couple of people have emailed me for tips on how to get into this job/pass the interview/pass the driving test etc…

So in an effort to increase my laziness efficiency I am writing this post just so I can point it out to people who email me asking for advice, and this will hopefully answer all their questions…

First off – there are two routes into working for the LAS.  the 'traditional' route is to apply for a place on one of our training courses, after which you are offered a place at one of the stations around London.  This is the route that I took, and at the end of 20 weeks training you are an EMT-2, or as they used to be known 'Trainee Qualified Ambulance Technician'.

The other route is via the University of Hertford (and now also Kingston University, but I think you have to get on the course via the LAS), who do a degree course – It takes 3 years and when you finish the course you are a State Registered Paramedic.  You are not guaranteed a job though.

More information is available via the links.

To apply for the traditional route you must…

  • Be aged between 21 and 45
  • Have a stable employment or education record.
  • Be able to communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds.
  • Be physically fit with good eyesight.
  • Have held a full, manual British driving license (with no more than 3 points) for at least for two years.
  • Be resident in or near the Greater London area or prepared to relocate.

You should also have at least a little bit of common sense.  Previous medical knowledge is not required, although obviously it's an advantage.  Reading this blog should give you an idea about the work, and whether you are emotionally/psychologically suited for it.

I don't know what being in the St John's ambulance would do for your chances of getting in.  While the training would be useful a fair few people still hold a grudge over the dispute in the late 1980's.  It shouldn’t have a negative effect on your application, but you never know.

For more details, and to apply the important address is…

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust
Recruitment centre
St Andrews House
St Andrews Way
Devons Road
London E3 3PA
Tel: 020 7887 6638

Once you apply, expect to wait.  Expect to wait a long, long time.  I had to wait over a year to be interviewed, as it all depends on when the LAS are able to run the courses due to either manning or financial pressures.

The interview is to see what sort of person you are (duh), and to see if you will fit in with the ethos of the LAS.  The questions that I was asked included 'Do you mind taking orders from a woman?' (which we all found hilarious considering that I was coming from such a female dominated profession), 'Do you have any problem with blood and guts?' and then they gave me a scenario dealing with a stroppy relative.  I think there was also some of the standard questions you get in any interview, 'What qualities do you think you will bring to the job?', 'You do know that you will be working shifts?' and 'Are you a racist?'

My interview was a fairly friendly affair, but then I think I have that effect on people.

Then on another day, comes the physical/mental assessment.  This involved carrying a weighted dummy up and down some stairs (with another applicant), so make sure you wear decent shoes, I was wearing my best high heels, so I had a fair bit of trouble…

Then they test your dictation/English skills, which involved copying down a text from a tape.  They play the tape twice, and it's not too fast.  As long as your handwriting is legible, you should get through this bit.  If you think you'll have trouble, practice with a friend reading a paragraph from a book.

You also get sent a piece of paper teaching you how to put an Entonox cylinder together.  You have to learn it and then physically do it.  It isn’t hard to do, and they give you plenty of practice.

The maths test starts off easy, but then progresses to questions like, 'Your ambulance goes 5 miles to the gallon in town, and 7 miles to the gallon on the motorway.  You travel 4 miles in town, then 7 miles on the motorway followed by another 3 miles in town.  What colour is your ambulance? How much petrol have you used?

Calculators are not allowed.  Nor are mobile phones with calculator functions.

I don’t know if there are sample question sheets, but if you are not too happy with maths, then warm up your brain by doing some arithmetic before going on the assessment day.

Then comes the driving test.  Essentially you are expected to drive a 14 seater van around the streets of Fulham.  Qualities that the tester is looking for are – safe driving, following the highway code, and the thing that stuffed me on two occasions…”underconfidence/overconfidence”.

Oh, and not to hit any kerbs…

If you are not used to driving vans, then I highly recommend that you hire a van and drive it around for a bit.  It did wonders for me.  I’d also suggest that you drive it like you would drive your own car.  I failed first time on the ‘underconfidence’ thing, as I was driving like a 90 year old granny with poor eyesight.  I’d suggest driving as if you are driving your own car.

They do give you a couple of attempts on separate days to pass.  I think there is 6 weeks between attempts though.

 Hopefully, this will help you join the wonderous organisation known as the LAS.

Good Luck!


43 thoughts on “Join Us…Join Us…”

  1. thank you for this, it's valuable information.whilst i'm not applying to LAS, i'm sure the service i am applying to will have a similar process. application forms are in, just waiting to hear back now.

  2. Thank you, same as above. I've also got a friend in Cov & War Ambo Service and he's been giving me helpful hints and tips. (The one that I've really got to get a handle on is a 1 mile run under something like 5 mins – can't remember the exact time) as I'll probably end up applying for Cov & War.

  3. The one that I've really got to get a handle on is a 1 mile run under something like 5 mins – can't remember the exact timeThe TA's basic fitness test for women is/was 1.5 miles in 12:30, i.e. 8:20 min miles. I doubt it's tougher than that.

  4. Just for info, the BSc (Hons.) Paramedic Science degree at Herts uni is 4 years – they have introduced a sandwich year for the 3rd year, where we work as EMT's for a year with the LAS to gain essential on the road experience. This is in addition to placements and clinical operational training in the 1st, 2nd and 4th years.I have just started the course, this September. The foundation Paramedic Science degree at Herts is 3 years, but you do not gain a BSc (Hons.) qualification. More info is available via the link that Tom provided above.

    Good luck to anyone applying to the ambulance service!


  5. I don't know, but I imagine it would have been an industrial dispute of some kind. Would you like it if someone came along and did your job for free.

  6. can someone put an exact figure on this running thing please, if i've got to do it in a few weeks time i'd like to know what to expect… might need to work on my stamina a bit…

  7. Can anyone give some guidance on what kind of questions were asked at the interview? I think that will be my weakest point in the application process. Also, how benificial is having a first aid qualification? Thanks all!

  8. What were the pre-requisites for getting into Greenwich? Did he just apply to the College for the course or was he interviewed by LAS first? I did phone and email Greenwich but was simply informed of the fees for each of the two years, along with the fact that you would be employed by LAS. They never mentioned the fees being covered by anyone else, or whether you have to be accepted by LAS prior to entering Greenwich.I sent them a few emails but never got a straight answer back from them.

  9. another quick question on a more appropriate thread:Can diabetics join the LAS as direct entry paramedics?

    I know they can now join the police etc. Im probably going to apply for the para. science course at herts in 2 years and im type 1 diabetic. its under good control, i just don't know if there is still a blanket ban on diabetics joining the ambulance services and driving emergency vehicles etc.?

    thanks for your time

  10. I believe they've now taken out the entonox assessment, but I may be wrong. The dictation was so easy it was laughable. They dictate about 5 words, leave a huge gap, then another 5 words etc.The driving was a pain – I got this blue sherper minibus heap of sh*t, and it kept crunching going into 1st gear. I thought the assessor was going to try and blame me, but he waited until we got back to Fulham before telling me they've been having problems with that vehicle and it is known to crunch going into 1st gear. Thanks. Could've told me that before hand!

  11. Hi allJust to say thanks for that, very interesting. I'm visiting Bow in December for my written assessments so here's to me passing.


  12. there was no dispute with St Johns Ambulance in the late 80's per say, there was however an ambulance dispute… besides the military, and the police doing the job, St Johns were, as they say, scabs (strike breakers to our overseas “listeners”)the strike was great, coz, as far as i remember they never actually went on strike, they just never said they would respond to a call, and then they turn out anyway 🙂

    ambulance control however, couldn't take the risk they would/ wouldn't turn out, so had to send anyway, police transit vans or military ambulance with police escorts, to the job, only to find out half the time the proper ambulance had been and gone……with the patient.

    it was a great game of cat and mouse

    i remember being put an standby to support the military, i was servicng at the time.

    thats my recollection of events, someone may have a better recollection than me

  13. There was no dispute with the St Johns Ambulance Service in the 1980's or at any other time. There may have been rather silly concerns by some ,rather stupid LAS ambulance persons during the Great Ambulance dispute and this has led to an urban myth that St Johns undermined our fight for better wages. This of course was not s. At the conclusion of the dispute Stewart Barber Unison was able to claim that his union had “driven a coach and horses through the then Conservative governments public service wages policy. In reality he had done no such thing! The same offer had been made months before; whilst we were freezing our balls and fannies off out on the streets, collecting money!I was relief at the time of the dispute and had previously worked as a part-timer on the PTS at Newham Amb Stn. Being an older person I was not much impressed by the extreme left wing rubbish which was being advocated by Newhams stewards at the time, (SWP member or supporters) and I was told that I was not welcome. West ham station happily took me in and we had a good and profitable dispute, only going back to work as a result of growing boredom and a slow but steady reduction in the flow of support funds. The people of London who had supported us through the previous six months as a protest against the Poll Tax! Without that support we (with our mortgages to pay) would have lasted no more than a month. At the start of the dispute the light hearts amongst us had taken the cowardly way out by going sick days before, in the hope of safe guarding their wages. The remainder of us were all suspended; no one ever went on strike! As soon as Joe public started to show there support financially and word got out that we were doing rather better than we would have done on LAS wages the light-hearts began to slink back to join us in the struggle. Within days only the genuinely ill were not at the station ready to do their duty both to the colleges and desperate members of the public who called direct to West Ham, or through the police. There was always at least one operational crew on station at West ham and they responded whenever necessary. In was proud to have co0ntributed to the development of this strategy and was one of the crew staff who went to address other workers to explain why we had taken industrial action.

    Contrast this approach against that taken by ambulance station such as Newham. We had good relations with St Johns and the Red Cross and Army ambulance personnel. Someone had to deal with ill patients, but when situations became critical we as professionals, responded and took over control and treatment of the sometimes critical patients.

    Personnel who are hypercritical of the St John Ambulance Service should go to the nearest mirror and carefully examine the badge on their chest. We are the profession heirs to the old Knights of St John of Jerusalem, a chivalric order of hospitalers and para-medics, who used to pick up sick and injured pilgrims and transport them to hospitals (abbey) along the route to the holy places. This is one of the things which I noticed through-out my service with the LAS. Little sense of honour, chivalry or respect to far too many people who we were charged ton serve. This applies to all ranks of the service and what is missing is a sense of our history and espree de corps.

  14. As you say there was no strike. The term “scab” is a term more appropriate to industrial situations, not emergency and urgent care of sick people. Someone had to pick the bodies up off the street!

  15. Anyone having problems with the LAS driving assement can always speak to one of my colleagues around town to give them some advise.Good luck to all those thinking of sweeling the ranks of the LAS, we can use more of you, if the NHS can afford to recruit.

    The Driving Instructor

  16. Can I also add, if you got your driving license after 1997 you'll need to obtain C1 catergory before you can take the LAS driving test.I've been accecpted into the LAS pending me getting my heavy vehicle driving license. 3 attempts and 2000 later I still haven't passed the test. Hopefully the fourth time will be the last.

  17. A five minute mile ? Most of the LAS guys I've come into contact with would only do that in search of a late night kebab (or a toilet after a late night kebab) 🙂

  18. Good luck with the HGV, I am in the process for the same reasons, (joining LAS). Going straight for the C part of the licence, rather than just C1, costs exactly the same and be aware that in a couple of years you will have to do C1 before doing C, and so on. In other words look for a second mortgage!!

  19. This is pretty much what my experience of the dispute was: Standing around in the freezing cold being told that “I didn't fight in a war for the likes of you!”. That's less than 1% of the population, the rest were very supporeive of us – or maybe they were unsupportive of the government!One thing, though. My recollection is that the dispute was in the NUPE COHSE era; ie pre Unison

  20. I'm worried about the fitness/weight issue..I have HGV and all the relevant criteria and qualifications but according to the bmi chart im about 3 stone overweight!! How strict are they? and what is the time for the 1 mile run?Laura

  21. I should imagine that 3 stone wouldn't be much of a problem. Also the LAS don't do a mile run, or at least they didn't when I did my assessment. Things may have changed but I doubt it.

  22. I currently work for Beds & Herts Ambulance Service in their control rooom, but am aiming to apply for the LAS Tech Course later on in the year. Just gotta get my C1 licence sorted. I phoned the recruitment line for a chat just to find out a bit more info, and from what I could gather they're going to be recruiting for the rest of the year….touch wood anyway.

  23. BrianIf you ever want more information on how to join the LAS via the University Route. University of Hertfordshire, Kingston/St Georges or Greenwich then please ask. Training manager LAS (SMAP)

  24. As a former Instructor with the Scottish Ambulance Service, I would say that a first aid qualification is not beneficial, as although you learn the basics on a first aid course and EMT course will have different protocols and MAY confuse people.

  25. When i joined the LAS in 82 i was taken aside by a seniior officer and 'advised' not to mention the fact that i was an active St. John member, and that it would help my career if i was to cease this!. The first 'strike' was while i was in training school, and we were forced to work (altho untrained) from Bloomsbury station through the action. Trainees evidently cant strike! – St. Johns steered me in the right direction, it gave me the 'appetite' needed to do this work, yes i did leave, but i still have high regard for the voluntary sector. By the time of the big strike action of th late 80's I was working as a Private Ambulanceman based in the south east, we met with the local crews (a lot who worked P/T for us anyway) and we stuck to the 8 or so requirements that were issued by the LAS for turning out. We did not offer a 24 hr A&E service but we were required by law to deal with RTA's which we came across. There has always been a few, hopefully this is now receding, that have issues with St. Johns or the private services, this is mainly through not understanding what they actually do. Yes i agree there are 'cowboy' firms out there in the private sector, but not all are like that. Look for the staff on these that have the 'Miller Badge', then at least you know they are well trained, and normally still support the LAS or other services. or should i say more accurately they support the men & women who do the job. It's time now that this discrimination stopped, we all had the same aims whether voluntary, private or military, To save lives!

  26. Having previously failed on the dummy lifting test, I telephoned LAS last week to find out whether they still had an age limit for applications. Due to the recent Age Discrimination Act, I was not sure whether it applied to the LAS, or whether they were exempt from it. The recruitment officer informed me that they no longer had a “cut off age”. I informed her that I was 47 and she told me that the age was not a factor and she was quite adamant that there was no age limit. My son, who is a police officer in East London, was rather shocked by this and thought that I must have been misinformed. I definitely spoke with the recruitment section. She informed me that I could also undertake a Paramedic Science Degree and that, during that time, I would be employed by the LAS but not paid.When I initially applied to the LAS, I went straight in for the tests (no initial interview or anything). I did the writing test – which was really easy, followed by the maths and map reading. Then the Entenox test took place, followed by the lifting of the dummy up and down stairs twice (once going forwards up the stairs, the second time backwards). I managed the first time but not the second. For some reason, I found it extremely difficult to walk up a stairs backwards – never mind having to lift a heavy dummy in a chair at the same time!

    Greenwich University also teaches the Paramedic Degree but I do not think that you are employed by LAS if you undertake their course. It seems to be a completely independant programme costing 2,500 for the first year, and 1,300 for years 2 and 3. If anyone wants it, the email address is

    Anyway, despite the fact that I would dearly love to get into the LAS, I have to be realistic in the fact that I would have trouble with the lifting due to a bad back. I have been informed that Essex Ambulance Service is much easier, but then it is not quite the same as working on the front-line for the LAS!

    I was thinking of undertaking a Paramedic Science Degree at Greenwich but am unsure whether it would be a waste of time or whether the qualification could still be utilised in some other capacity within the Health Service.

    Any advice/opinions would be most welcome.

  27. My fiance is based at Greenwich, and is employed by the LAS with the degree. He's out on the road an earning a wage with them as of his second year, and all tuition fees are paid by the LAS. He's an EMT2 now he's at the end of his first year.I also understand that a job will certainly be waiting at the end of it, though the shape of the LAS and roles within the job are changing all the time.

  28. I'm not entirely sure to be honest – it used to be that diabetics couldn't drive (which is a *really* silly idea) and I think a change is either in place, or about to be put in place to allow diabetics to drive.Best bet is to ask LAS human resources department.

  29. Hi. Im having my driving assessment in November and Im a bit worried about it. I just obtained my c licence through the TA. It was an 8 tonne lorry with 8 gears and I passed 1st time with 10 minors. I borrowed the combi van from Ta for about an hr and I found I was driving it like a lorry cornering too wide. I also attempted to parallel park it as Im not sure if this is no the test. I ddi manage it eventually but you need a big space adn I had to put full locks on. Does anyone know if this is no the test? My only other main concern is that I am not from London but from Bristol and have never driven in London! Is Fullham difficult to drive in? Do you think this will make it harder for me to pass? If I fail will I be given another chance or is it a one shot only thing?For those of you in the earlier stages of the application process do not worry. The assessment center was really easy, just brush up on your basic maths. The dictation has been replaced with a verbal reasoning test. There was a test on LAS procedures which which were to do with infection control and they send you the material you need to learn. There was also a test on the highway code and map reading, only basic map reading though using street maps. There was also a lift with a 55kg dummy in a wheel chair. I found this difficult at the time because I weighed 50kgs and was having physio on my wrist still.

    The interview was also good, they ask quite a lot of questions but the two guys interviewing me put me at ease right away and I actually enjoyed it. They will tell you you only ahve 6 weeks from the date of the interview to get your c1 licence but this isnt actually true just make sure you show you are working towards it and update them at each stage but obviosuly get it done asap, I think it took me 7 or 8 weeks.

  30. As far as I remember – and such things may have changed, there isn't a parallel parking bit, just driving around a bit to make sure that you are confident.I got three attempts, but there was a delay between them (6 months IIRC), but if you have been driving a big truck you'll probably be fine.

    They let me look at the marking criteria, so you should know what they are expecting.

    Hope this helps.

  31. just want to say thank you for all the info, am currently just over half way through your book and find it very amusing…most of it anyway!! i am applying for the student paramedic role within the LAS and have my interview coming up in a couple of weeks so pages like this…and the dreaded addiction to facebook seem to be helping!!although i wouldn't say your book is inspiring, neither is it putting my off! it would be a job i would feel honoured to have to be honest and can't wait! if not this time then i will re-apply until they get bored of me ha ha.

    so again thank you for the insider information, any additional advice on the interview would be appreciated!! but your obviously a very busy man..some shifts anyway ha ha.

    have a good day and look forward to reading your next book…so hurry up!


  32. Thanks for all the information in your blog, it's really great. I'm going to apply as a student paramedic in some months, so I can move to London with my fiance and do a job I love (I've been doing something similar, but less specialized, for years now as a volunteer in Italy), and I think your blog will really help me.For practical reasons I'm going to get a full C driving licence before I apply (we have no C1 here, only C), but I think my main problem with the driving test will be speeding. There would be driving on the left, but it's true that most italians usually drive on the left. The problem is, our real average speed in town is around 60 km/h and it will be difficult to slow down. Also, I'm driving an ambulance in Genova and I've been driving my car for almost 8 years in Genova and Sanremo, and the local habits are really bad here, as well as the quality of our roads. So I don't think that traffic in London will be an issue for me.

    I'm a bit worried about other things, so I hope you'll answer this comment. For example, if the closing date for the application is by the end of march 2010, does it mean that they won't be shortlisting anyone before that day? Or that I should send my application asap, or I risk that all positions are covered before I have my chance?

    And if all goes well, will I really wait so long before I get the job (this is very important, as I need to organize my job here so that I'll survive until we move to London)?

  33. The recruitment of people into the LAS is a process shrouded in mystery and wonder…Which is my way of saying that I haven't got a clue and so I think that your best bet would to be to contact the recruitment office again and ask.

    They keep changing, or so it would seem.

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