ESDS Drivers

Find information here regarding ESDS Drivers.

Who is involved with ESDS and who does it apply to?

Phase 1 of the ESDS initiative only includes the following organisations:

  • Civil Defence
  • The Irish Coast Guard
  • The Defence Forces
  • An Garda Síochána
  • Health Service Executive National Ambulance Service
  • The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council
  • The Chief Fire Officer’s Association, and
  • The Irish Prison Service
  • National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management

however it is envisaged that there will be further phases of the initiative in which other organisations may apply for certification of their drivers.

It is a matter for each organisation to identify their own requirements in relation to the nomination of drivers for ESDS.

I currently drive for my emergency service organisation - why should I become a certified ESDS driver?

Emergency service drivers should aim to achieve an exemplary standard of driving that acts as a positive example to other road users, this will significantly reduce the risks created by driving  emergency service vehicles and will benefit drivers and other road users.

How do I apply to become a certified ESDS Driver?

You must be nominated by one of the following organisations to attain ESDS Driver Certification:

  • Civil Defence
  • The Irish Coast Guard
  • The Defence Forces
  • An Garda Síochána
  • Health Service Executive National Ambulance Service
  • The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council
  • The Chief Fire Officer’s Association
  • The Irish Prison Service
  • National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management

Only drivers eligible to avail of legal exemptions under the Road Traffic Act can undertake ESDS Level 3 training and assessment.

Each organisation will have an appointed ESDS liaison officer.

Is ESDS compulsory for all emergency services?

The Emergency Services Driving Standard is entirely a voluntary code.
Phase 1 of the ESDS initiative only includes the following organisations:

  • Civil Defence
  • The Irish Coast Guard
  • The Defence Forces
  • An Garda Síochána
  • Health Service Executive National Ambulance Service
  • The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council
  • The Chief Fire Officer’s Association, and
  • The Irish Prison Service
  • National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management

however it is envisaged that there will be further phases of the initiative in which other organisations may apply for certification of their drivers.
It is a matter for each organisation to identify their own requirements in relation to the nomination of drivers for ESDS.

What is the structure of ESDS and are there different levels of ESDS?

The Emergency Services Driving Standard (ESDS) has three levels:

ESDS Level 1 This is the entry level and sets out the training, learning and assessment that will produce competent and responsible emergency service drivers.
ESDS Level 2 Describes the training, learning and assessment for emergency service drivers and includes the principles and skills set of ‘Roadcraft’. ‘Roadcraft’ is a recognised system of vehicle control in the training for emergency service drivers that develops a methodical and systematic approach to driving. It increases safety by giving the driver more time to react in complex situations as they have a greater awareness and ability to anticipate hazards.
ESDS Level 3

This level refers only to services who by law can drive using blue lights and sirens in emergency response situations when this does not endanger the safety of other road users. An example of this is when an emergency services vehicle exceeds the statutory speed limit. This applies only to emergency services who are specified in Section 87 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 as follows:

• An Garda Síochána,
• Ambulance Services
• Fire Services

This level sets out a series of principles and response tactics which are compatible with Roadcraft and focus on the driver’s attitude towards emergency response driving.

Creating correct behaviour and a responsible attitude to driving skills greatly reduces the risks associated with emergency response driving. The standards will ensure that drivers fully understand their responsibility to manage the risks associated with emergency response driving and, in doing so, they will help to keep themselves and the public safe.


What do I have to do to become an ESDS certified Driver?

Firstly, you must be nominated by one of the following emergency services

  • Civil Defence
  • The Irish Coast Guard
  • The Defence Forces
  • An Garda Síochána
  • Health Service Executive National Ambulance Service
  • The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council
  • The Chief Fire Officer’s Association
  • The Irish Prison Service
  • National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management

If you are being put forward for ESDS, your emergency services organisation may arrange ESDS training for you. Your organisation will apply to the ESDS unit in the RSA for an ESDS theory test and assessment. You must pass the theory test and assessment in order to receive certification as an ESDS driver.

Who will arrange the necessary theory tests?

Whether the theory test is done in the organisations premises or done through the national network of Driver Theory Test offices in Ireland, (in a similar manner to the theory test for driver licensing at present), your ESDS organisation will arrange the theory test.

Who will arrange the necessary assessments?

Your ESDS organisation will apply for a practical assessment on your behalf and they will then make the necessary arrangements for assessment.

Will I need to arrange any test or assessments myself?

No. Your ESDS organisation will apply for the theory test and practical assessment on your behalf and they will then make the necessary arrangements.

Can I get a Certification of the standard?

On successful completion of both theory test and practical assessment the ESDS unit in the RSA will issue your ESDS Driver certification through your nominating ESDS organisation.

Do I need training to get certified?

Drivers that avail of training will be more likely to obtain ESDS certification than those who do not avail of training.

The ESDS syllabus  publication outlines how ESDS Trainers may deliver effective and appropriate training at each level. It is underpinned by the ESDS Guidance Manual  and ESDS Competence Framework.

Where can I get the training?

As organisations will nominate who they wish to have certified, they will also be in position to give direction on the availability of training in respect of the particular Level and Category of vehicle.

How long does Certification last?

Driver certification will last 5 years. Driver recertification will be required in order to maintain ESDS certification within 5 years from the issue date of previous certification in that ESDS level and category.

If I move from one organisation to another does my ESDS certification move with me?

All ESDS certification will be RSA approved and be transferrable between emergency services. This interoperability should not preclude an organisation from determining if refresher or additional training is required in the case of a member who has been trained or assessed by another organisation.

Do I need to renew my certification?

Driver recertification will be required in order to maintain ESDS certification within 5 years from the issue date of previous certification in that ESDS level and category.

Who will bear the cost of certification?

In the initial roll out of ESDS each ESDS member organisation will nominate who they wish to have certified. The cost of certification will be administered through the nominating organisation.

What happens when I pass?

After you have successfully completed the relevant theory test and the relevant practical assessment, the ESDS unit at the RSA will issue a Certificate through your nominating organisation.

What if I do not pass?

If you have not been successful in either the theory test or the practical assessment (or both) your ESDS organisation may reapply on your behalf.

I drive for an organisation not included in ESDS – will other organisations be included in future?

Phase 1 of the ESDS initiative only includes the following organisations:

  • Civil Defence
  • The Irish Coast Guard
  • The Defence Forces
  • An Garda Síochána
  • Health Service Executive National Ambulance Service
  • The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council
  • The Chief Fire Officer’s Association, and
  • The Irish Prison Service
  • National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management

however it is envisaged that there will be further phases of the initiative in which other organisations may apply for certification of their drivers.
It is a matter for each organisation to identify their own requirements in relation to the nomination of drivers for ESDS.

What are my options if my emergency service is not involved with ESDS – can I do it anyway?

As Phase 1 of the ESDS initiative only includes the following organisations,

  • Civil Defence
  • The Irish Coast Guard
  • The Defence Forces
  • An Garda Síochána
  • Health Service Executive National Ambulance Service
  • The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council
  • The Chief Fire Officer’s Association, and
  • The Irish Prison Service
  • National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management

Accordingly if you are not a member of one of the above organisations you may not apply for ESDS certification during this initial phase. However it is envisaged that there will be further phases of the initiative in which other organisations may apply for certification of their drivers.

My organisation does not have an ESDS assessor – who will carry out my practical driving assessment?

The ESDS unit in the RSA in consultation with your own organisation schedule your relevant assessment. The RSA will hold a register of ESDS assessors.