Welcoming Paramedics into the AHP Family, by Gerry Egan [firstname.lastname@example.org]
As the newest members of the AHP family I wanted to introduce myself and my profession. I am Gerry Egan, first and foremost a Paramedic, but also the Paramedic Clinical Director of the Scottish Ambulance Service. This is a relatively new post in what is a fairly young profession. Currently there are around 17,000 paramedics in the UK and around 1550 working in the Scottish Ambulance Service. There are a number who work for the private ambulance services and these services are more common in England.
The majority of Paramedics will be based on a traditional ambulance and work alongside an Ambulance technician, working a shift that provides 24/7 every week of the year. In the more remote locations there is still an element of on call working.
The traditional ambulance is supplemented by the use of Motorcycles, pushbikes, rapid response cars and our air-wing.
The common vision of paramedics is that of driving quickly (and safely) with lights and sirens to pick patients up and take them to one of NHS Scotland’s Emergency Departments. Whilst this is still the case on some occasions, we are now more often than not carrying out complex care under challenging conditions, stabilising some critically ill patients and taking the patient to other more appropriate points of care. For example, cardiac cases are now just as likely to go direct to the Cath Lab table from the back of the ambulance (bypassing the ED) or direct to CCU. We will have transmitted the ECG ahead of arrival and had a clinical conversation with the receiving team on the way in.
Paramedics are at the forefront of developing pathways and referral routes to keep patients at home and this is especially the case in frail older people who fall where we will now often refer to a falls team rather than taking the patient to an already busy ED.
The profession is growing all the time and we are starting to see diverging career pathways available, We have paramedics undertaking post-graduate education in critical care to work on the air ambulance alongside the retrieval teams. Paramedic Practitioners working with Minor Injury Units and Primary Care colleagues are going a long way to reducing inappropriate admissions. I was discussing this with a practitioner in a remote Scottish location recently- his referral and reduction in admission rate is about 70% of his calls.
One of most recent advances is the move to university based education and the Scottish Ambulance Academy is now a part of Glasgow Caledonian University where we study and train alongside our AHP, nursing and social care colleagues.
In my next blog I will focus on the skills Paramedics use and the process we go through to maintain these and our CPD.