The blue lights of emergency care

If you’re looking for a job that will exercise the same skills as those acquired in the Armed Forces, and will challenge you in new ways, a role in the emergency services could be perfect for you.

Though it may not seem obvious at first, there are many similarities between serving in the Armed Forces and working with the emergency services.

Many people sign up to serve in the Armed Forces to defend people from danger and suffering. This is often a similar motivation for those who join the emergency services, and goals in both fields are similar: to serve the country and protect citizens from harm.

It’s understandable then, that veterans are highly suited to work in the emergency services when they return to civvy street. The workplace cultures are often very similar, and veterans already have many of the qualities that emergency service roles require. And there are many employment opportunities on offer in the NHS.


Step into Health is a programme run by the NHS, to improve veterans’ employment prospects and provide
a route into the service. Established in 2014, the organisation aims to promote the fact that almost half of the 350 careers in the NHS are non- clinical, and do not require a medical background.

Laura Farrow is a senior recruitment advisor for the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), and experienced first-hand the challenges veterans face finding employment, after her father left the services.

“I think we’ve got a lot of transferable qualities, and veterans have lots of skills that can easily transition over into SCAS,” explains Laura.

“We’re always really excited when we’re interviewing service leavers because we know they have so many qualities that we are looking for and they’re really enthusiastic about our Trust and roles available.”

At a time when the NHS is stretched and looking for new recruits every day – there are 18,431 jobs at the time of writing – veterans already have many of the valued skills necessary to succeed.

Dai Tamplin

Dai Tamplin joined the Royal Military Police in 2002, and built up a diverse military career, before leaving last year.

He began his career for SCAS as a community first responder, volunteering in his free time from his role in the Forces, and now works for them as a project manager.

“The thing that sold the ambulance service to me was that it seemed to operate on a very similar basis to the military,” enthuses Dai.

“There’s a mission, there’s a vision, there are values and standards of behaviour. There was a number of things that appealed to me. It was the similar values, the variety of the role – no day is the same – the people and the can-do culture.”


In recognition of their continuous work with veterans, SCAS was awarded the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award in 2017; the highest honour for organisations that have signed the Armed Forces Covenant.

And it’s not only the ambulance service that’s going the extra mile for service leavers: police services and fire brigades around the country actively recruit ex-military personnel, too. Many branches have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, to show their support for Armed Forces personnel, and commit to creating more employment opportunities.

“Veterans have the ability and willingness to go the extra mile,” says Dai. “There’s leadership, which we have a lot of experience with: we know how to co-ordinate a group of people to achieve a task, and that’s invaluable experience.

“Understanding the intent, which is very Army-specific – that applies fantastically to the emergency services where you’re in a dynamic environment. Every day and every situation is different. The ability to understand the end goal and keep that in the back of your mind really helps when things go wrong.”

One of the key qualities veterans have that prepares them well for working in the emergency services is experience working under large amounts of pressure, and being able to remain calm in often stressful situations.

“Every day, SCAS is out facing difficult situations, dealing with things that service leavers have potentially been exposed to already,” continues Laura. “You could be really thrown into circumstances and situations that can be quite testing, but you know the people you’re working with are there with you, supporting you.”


One of the biggest similarities between the Armed Forces and the emergency services is the team spirit that is integral to operations running smoothly in both organisations.

“I think the biggest similarity is being part of a family, we’re a tight-knit unit,” Laura enthuses. “When you’re out on station or with your team, you’ve got that connection that exists within the military. You won’t be on your own, you will have that support, which is paramount to us as an organisation.”

“There’s a real team spirit and a shared goal: to deliver the best care to the patient,” agrees Dai. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re an emergency care assistant, a paramedic, a project manager; everything we do, ultimately, is to benefit the patients. The banter is there and is similar to the military. So, there’s that camaraderie from the Forces, the teamwork, and working towards a common purpose.”

If you’re looking for employment opportunities and want to continue working in a fast-paced environment where you can progress your career, the emergency services could be for you. And with many diverse roles available, you never know where it could lead you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top