As an aspiring paramedic, how does the route to registration begin?
Traditionally, the route to becoming a paramedic is completed via 3 A-levels followed by a 3-year university degree in Paramedic Science. Throughout the course, you are sporadically required to include unpaid 4 on/4 off placements. This is no mean feat! During this time, you will be exposed to a multitude of critical/emergency/urgent care incidents. These not only educate you clinically but also prepare you emotionally for your career ahead.
Personally, I did not complete this pathway but followed an ‘in-house’ route. This involved employment as a call taker, dispatcher, and emergency care assistant prior to being accepted on a university course allowing me to be employed as a Student Paramedic. It takes 7 years to complete and, if you take this route, get ready to juggle! In my case, I had to somehow find a way to navigate a full-time job, family and study.
Having completed your course, would you recommend this pathway to other aspiring paramedics?
Yes, I certainly would. Economically it’s far more affordable and I was able to earn a living whilst learning. I have also come away with a wealth of experience from my control room days and have spent years learning from experienced paramedics - something that is limited through the direct entry route.
I’m a huge advocate for the emergency care assistant to paramedic route.
I imagine every day is very different?
Just like our colleagues in the Police, Fire and Rescue and wider NHS, we start our day with the prospect of not knowing what we will see or attend to during our 12-hour shift. This can widely vary from cardiac arrests, RTA’s, major trauma to falls in the elderly and social care requirements. The skills required on the job are vast and request the need to always give your best with an enormous responsibility to your patient, their family and your team.
In modern times, our role is ever evolving and there is certainly an increase in the requirement to deliver urgent care to low acuity patients. However, this is always delivered with the upmost professionalism and the highest standards.
With this in mind, what message would you like to convey to the public going forwards?
The Ambulance Service and the NHS have never faced such busy times. During my 7 years with the service, I have never seen so much ‘burn out’ and low staff morale. This in turn is related not only to the pandemic but systemic misuse of our services. Ultimately, we are an emergency service, best trained in dealing with time-critical, emergency medicine. Unfortunately, most of our workload is tied up with low acuity patients who may have otherwise struggled to contact the appropriate services. Although this is frustrating, I will always urge the public to stop and think, “Is this an emergency? Could I do something different?”
Many of us talk about our ‘work family’ when we can spend more than half our week working. How important is your work family?
Working 12-hour days, across 4 days a week, and attending sometimes devastating scenes, your work family provide you with a safe space to debrief and relax. Without them I could not complete my job on a day-to-day basis. They support me clinically, emotionally and often become friends for life. The need for your work family when working in emergency services is just indescribably high.
With your work family comes camaraderie which must help enormously?
Stories are often told about the black humour which surrounds the NHS, Police, Fire and Rescue, and the Armed Forces. This is true. The things heard in the crew room or cabin would bring the strangest of looks from almost any person who has not donned the green uniform of the ambulance service before. It is all in gest and often a coping mechanism which allows staff to de-stress and de-brief after attending incidents. Between that, spending 12 hours a day with the same person develops strong bonds and with that comes banter, a lot of banter.
Is there a ‘stand-out’ moment for you in your chosen profession?
Within the space of twelve hours, you can assist bringing a life into the world, whilst at the next incident you can be involved in preventing a life leaving the world. Seeing the whole scope of human life is always a privilege and never a chore.
Coinciding with our interview, Will has now finished his student paramedic course and awaits official ratification of his exams and then registration as a fully qualified paramedic.
Team Motorfinity wants to give him a massive shout-out. Well done, Will!
It’s time to chill out with your proud family and enjoy that movie-night in! 😊