Do prospective ambulance drivers have to have any local knowledge?

Just wondering, if taxi drivers have to prove some sort of knowledge of local streets etc, do (or did) prospective ambulance drivers have to prove something similar? Or is it all done with sat-nav these days?

Some departments use GPS, others have MDTs, and for the low tech, map books broken into districts of the coverage area.

For some reason*, I hold an Illinois EMT-B license.

Near the end of the class required to take the exam, a couple of reps from a local ambulance company came by to recruit. The sole requirement for the job was the EMT license. These jobs are mostly hospital and nursing home transfers of stable patients, though. And since starting was at about $7.50/hr, I wasn’t exactly tearing up my B.Sci diploma.

Here in Chicagoland, the lights and siren types are usually either municipal fire depts or paramedics (a big licensing upgrade over EMT-B) working for privates. Those are harder jobs to get and there might be some street knowledge tests built into the hiring process (I doubt it).

*I had just graduated from college and wanted to take an fun and easy class. It was both! And it’s not a bad conversation piece at the bottom of my resume.

At my volunteer firehouse, part of the driver’s training includes driving around getting to know the local streets, and some reading of the map books. Most of our members are from the area, so they have a general knowledge of the streets and neighborhoods.
We use map books exclusively, which are huge books of street maps broken down into box assignments. They’re sort of like the ADC books, but each page shows a much smaller area, with more street detail and our call numbers listed on them.

I also work for a private ambulance company, and we have GPS in all our units. When I first started working there, I didn’t have an extensive knowledge of the area (it’s in the next county over), and depended on the GPS quite a lot. Now I can find all the usual hospitals and nursing homes easily, and mainly use the GPS to find residences and on long-distance runs.

After a recent DIY-related mishap, I had the opportunity to ride in the back of an ambulance to the local hospital – about three miles away. I couldn’t see out too well, but I could tell we were taking an odd, roundabout route. The guy in the back with me said the driver was new and relying on the GPS. All the ambulances have been fitted with new ones, apparently: the software’s not as good as the old ones, but the new units are harder to steal.

I realize that the person who drives an ambulance is technically called an “Ambulance driver,” but call an EMT an ambulance driver and he or she might throw down with you.

When I first started as an EMT, part of my interview for my first job included a “how do you get to XYZ street?” They named major streets in my community, but I’ve lived in my town my whole life, so I knew everywhere they asked. That department gets folks from outside of our community, though, and asked those streets as a standard interview question with everyone.

Of course, that was ten years before the advent of vehilce based GPS, so things may have changed. I do know that service has the GPS in their rescues now, but I haven’t worked with them for oh, eight to ten years now.

Yes, I get peeved at people who assume I’m nothing more than a glorified taxi driver with flashy lights and a siren. My job title at work is “EMT/Driver” which means I can do both jobs, drive or provide care.

I realize that the person who drives an ambulance is technically called an “Ambulance driver,” but call an EMT an ambulance driver and he or she might throw down with you.


This is correct.

Yeah, my bad, I’ve seen both crew members working on people during call outs, so I don’t think they’re just slouching around the driver’s seat, despite what my lazy OP suggested :o

Sorry, I meant for that last post to have an informative part, too.

The actual answer to your question is it depends. Training will vary from ambulance service to ambulance service. Although some services will throw anyone with a card into an ambulance, most ambulance services have some sort of field training program. The first service I worked for gave a 2-hour mapping class and that was pretty much it, although we did get map coordinates from the fire department.

At the service I work for now, there is a 2-hour mapping class (sometimes taught by me) during orientation. This covers the basics of the addressing systems for the areas we cover, the locations of all the hospitals, specialized destination hospitals (trauma center, etc), and generalized routing. Once an EMT or medic enters the field instruction program, they’re expected to map to calls and to the hospital. There’s an extensive mapping test to pass out of the progam, which includes mapping with and without the mapbook. In addition, most of the Denver Metro area uses a standard address grid (starting at Broadway & Ellsworth) and new EMTs and medics are expected to memorize the names and block numbers of ALL the streets in our jurisdiction.

St. Urho
Paramedic, posting from an ambulance.

You mean you don’t even need a drivers’ licence? :eek: