Back in London

Got back from the Isle of Wight – which reminded me why I don't really drink anymore – two beers are guaranteed to give me a hangover the next morning. I'm a lightweight – but I'm also a cheap date…
Doc got a list of questions via e-mail from a student who was doing a report on Paramedics/EMTs for a class.

Here are my answers with minimal joking around.

How did you get started in your career?

Ended up as an A+E nurse after a large number of previous jobs, including a failure to stand teacher training. After 8 years of torturing patients I thought I needed a change.

What are some of the advantages of being a paramedic?

You are your own boss, you get plenty of fresh air, you can get rid of annoying patients in 20 minutes if you want and I get paid more than I did as a senior nurse.

The disadvantages?

Having to lug huge chest pains down narrow/blocked stairs, having to deal with time-wasters who abuse you, not being able to use my nursing skills as much as I'd like, being looked down on by some hospital staff.

What training or education did you need to complete before you were able to apply for the job?

Had to be 21 with a clean driving license, had to pass a basic reading/writing/'arithmetic test as well as carry a dummy up and down stairs. Then it's an intensive 20 week course followed by a years “probation” where you do everything you would be expected to do but only get paid 80%

What enjoyment do you get out of your career?

Fresh air (do not underestimate sunshine and fresh air until you work 12 hour shifts in a windowless box of an A+E)

I also do still enjoy helping people who need help – unfortunately this is a rarity given the “calibre” of most of our jobs.

Did you have any inspirations that helped you decide to be a paramedic?

I always wanted to be Nicolas Cage…

What are some situations you might run into?

Anything and everything, luckily the IRA have stopped bombing us (which is nice) but anything from a stubbed toe or scratched finger to people who have jumped in front of a train. Most day shifts have a mix of Chest Pain, strokes and Abdo pain. Night shifts are more Overdoses, Alcohol related and assaults. We also get to taxi maternities the 800 yards to hospital.

Who drives the ambulance?

Whoever isn't drunk that day (joke). My crewmate and I swap every day.

What are the rules when driving an ambulance?

We have a number of “Exemptions” – we can ignore speed limits, treat red traffic lights as a “Give way” Park wherever we want, drive on the wrong side of the road.

Things we can't claim as an exemption are “Dangerous driving” and “Dangerous parking”

The other main rule is try not to crash into anything…

What tools are stored inside the ambulance?

Basic life support stuff like O2, airways and dressings also more specialised kit like a ventilator, cardiac monitor, heart “shock box”, a number of drugs, spinal board and scoop.

We are supposed to be able to undertake “light rescue” but none of the vehicles have the kit to do that.

How long are your daily shifts?

Without “late jobs” normally 12 hours although sometimes we have 8 or 9 hour shifts.

What do you do once you deliver the patient to the ER?

Get a cup of tea…Fill out the PRF (Patient report form) restock and clean the ambo and “green up” for the next call.

Do you have to fill out paper works for each patient?

Yes. An A3 sized sheet.

What is the average amount of calls daily?

In a twelve hour shift between 10-14 calls of varying severity.

How many paramedics travel to an emergency in the ambulance?

Two people in a crew (not counting training crews or people who are “third manning” because they cannot lift due to recovery from sickness) Extra ambos are available for serious calls. Every ambo tries to have one Paramedic but the difference between EMT and Paramedic over here is quite small.

How many people work in one ambulance?

Just two.

One thought on “Back in London”

  1. TomAs an avid reader of Random Acts and both of the Blood, Sweat and Tea books, I'm hoping that you may be able to help me.

    I've tried Googling the answer to this one but keep ending up in the same cul-de-sac.

    I'm writing a novel with a Paramedic as the central character and need to get her suspended (ain't I cruel!?) because she's

    freed a patient (for very good reasons, but the Ambulance Service don't see it that way) who was in the care of a Mental Health unit and now won't reveal the patient's whereabouts for their own safety.

    I've tried JRCALC on-line but it doesn't seem to cover this eventuality. Is there a part of JCALC or another publication that I can have my character's Clinical Team Leader quote at her before she's sent home?

    Hoping you can help

    Andrew Toynbee

    Writer and Aspiring Novelist

    (Not a nutter!!)

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