Posts Tagged ‘paramedic’

Career choices

Posted: August 10, 2012 in Personal, Work
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As I said last night – I’ve wanted to be a paramedic longer than I can remember. It’s been a career that has always appealed – I’ve never wanted a 9-5 job, I’ve always wanted to help people, and I’ve always wanted to be the guy who drives to work in the morning, or is on the train, and I look around, and know that I’m different to everyone else.

But equally – I love the anonymity the uniform provides. I love that I can see a patient and potentially make a difference in their life, or ease the pain for them or their family, but that as soon as I walk away, they won’t remember my name, just that someone in green was there to help them when they needed it. Every patient means something to me. I have notebooks with brief details in on every patient I’ve seen so far – it helps with reflection and learning, but also makes me realise how crazy work can be.

But so far, through all the jobs that I did during my undergraduate degree, and all the other jobs I’ve had – I’ve still always wanted to be a paramedic. And it feels right, I feel like it’s the place that I fit.

Though recently – some people have been questioning why I’m happy “just being a paramedic”. I’ve encountered this attitude both at work, and out of it. I’m sure I’m capable of going further, training as a doctor, as people suggest. But why? That would defeat the whole point of becoming a paramedic. Of being on the frontline, just me and a crewmate, dealing with whatever the shift throws our way. Of adapting and improvising to treat the patient as effectively as possible. Of being an ever present anonymous guy in a green uniform, there for when people need us, 24/7/365.

Yes, I want to push myself further in my career, but still remaining a paramedic. I want to specialise, I want to push the ambulance service forward. Heck, I want to push MYSELF forward. But, at the end of the day, I always want to be a paramedic.



Posted: June 25, 2012 in Personal, Work
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Sometimes you need to smile.

Sometimes you need to laugh.

And sometimes…you need to cry.

We cry because we care. We cry because what we do means so much to us. And we cry because we’re human.

When that day comes that you don’t cry…that’s the day you need a career change.

So…you want to be a paramedic? Really? Ok, take 5 minutes, go have a freezing cold shower, and come back if you’re sure!

Oh, you came back. Well, if you’re sure…

Sit down, young padawan, and I will explain everything…

I’m not going to kid you around – being a paramedic for most NHS ambulance trusts in the UK involves working 50% of your time on nights, otherwise known as “unsocial hours”. For this, you do get paid 25% extra, but you also completely naff up your sleeping pattern and you find that you spend most of your social time with other emergency service workers, or other healthcare workers. Get used to it.

Being a paramedic isn’t glamorous. It isn’t a job where you can grab the glory. It isn’t a job where people you help will remember your name for the rest of their life. It involves working all hours of the day, potentially outside, potentially in the rain and mud on the side of a road, potentially getting verbal and the occasional physical abuse thrown your way.

Being a paramedic, at least for the NHS in the UK, does not pay well. Read that one again kids. It. Does. Not. Pay. Well. But I’m hoping you ain’t in it for the money.

On the flip side, and this is the important part – being a paramedic is very rewarding. You get to help people, and you see life at it’s very extremes. When people come into the world, and when they leave. You can tell a family that their loved one is going to be ok, and see the smiles and relief on their faces, and you can tell a family that their loved one has died, and see the grief and hurt on their face.

You get a fantastic team of partners, crewmates and colleagues, who will always be there for you, both in work and out of it, who will always help you, always step up, and always watch your back. They may rip the piss out of you mercilessly, but they will always do everything they can for you. And when you’re in the shit and call for help – the police cavalry will come bursting through the door in minutes to get your back, as you will for them when they get injured.

You get to drive incredibly fast in something big, and occasionally powerful, with lots of blue flashing lights on top that makes a lot of noise. Don’t underestimate this – it’s helluva lot of fun.

And finally – you get to go home at the end of the shift, no matter how crappy it was, and know that somehow, even if it doesn’t feel it, you made a difference to someone’s life today.

Stay tuned for part 2 – how to do it, and part 3 – how to cope!

Peace, love and hugs.

Hard shift

Posted: June 8, 2012 in Rants, Work
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I love my job. I really do. I’ve wanted to be a paramedic for longer than I can remember.

But, sometimes…

Shifts suck. And you need to beat the crap out of a punchbag.

Assignments (again…)

Posted: January 27, 2012 in University
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Just a quick note, for those of you who read my post about my first semester

I have passed my last essay from last semester, with a score of 75…that’ll do!! Now got to focus on this semester, got two reflections about cases I encounter on placement to write, an essay, and a multiple choice exam – so just a few pieces of work to worry about.

Now to go and get ready for a 7 til 7 night shift tonight! Wish me luck, and keep reading!

When it’s time…

Posted: January 26, 2012 in Work
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A collapse, simple job, check the patient over and maybe send him in for a check up…

As we speed along the dual carriageway, an update over the radio “patient is in cardiac arrest, no CPR being carried out”.

The car suddenly speeds up as my mentor jams the pedal to the floor, wheels squealing as we tear round roundabouts and corners, through junctions and over bridges to get there even faster.

We arrive on scene, leave the lights running, grab our bags and jog into your house, following the screams and hysterical crying into the living room. One look and we can tell your husband isn’t breathing, his lips and ears blue, eyes lifeless. We pull him out of the corner, rip his shirt open and I start on chest compressions as my mentor starts breathing for him. Counting under my breath “28…29…30”. We slap the pads on his chest, look at the monitor to see the crazy lines of his heart quivering in ventricular fibrillation (VF). Charge the defibrillator and shock him, energy coursing through his chest, making his limp body stiffen for less than a second, and then back to pounding away on his chest, feeling ribs crack under my palms, feeling his chest give way.

A crew arrive to back us up, and he is cannulated, adrenalin, amiodarone and fluids all coursing through his body, desperately trying to start his heart again. You’re in the kitchen, crying with your daughter and son-in-law, as we desperately fight to save the life of your husband. We scoop him onto a stretcher and run out to the ambulance, and I’m grabbed into the back and we accelerate off, flying over bridges so fast I swear the wheels and my feet leave the ground, as I desperately try to keep his blood moving around his body.

We arrive at hospital, shock you once more, and a doctor tells us to stop…he listens to the chest, looks at the screen, and decides to call it. As we tidy up, you arrive with your family in my mentor’s car and you’re taken inside to talk to the doctor. I get out, go and get my lunch that was bought just before we got the job, and sit down with a cup of tea. My mentor comes out, gives me a grin, and we head back to station to tidy up and re-stock.

I’m sorry we came running into your house.

I’m sorry I didn’t ask your name.

I’m sorry we couldn’t save him, your toyboy, after you’d been married almost 60 years.

And I’m sorry that it’s only just hit me, and made me think.

We did everything we could, tried everything possible, and fought the only way we know how to save his life.

Hey folks of the wide wonderful interwebs!

So I suddenly realised it had been AGES since I had updated this…so I thought I’d make a start by letting you know what you can expect over the next few weeks:

  • A mini-series (I hope!) on applying for and being a student paramedic!
  • Some fun stories on my first semester of lectures
  • Some interesting, some sad, and some downright bizarre stories on jobs I’ve been to on placement
  • And some other random happy stuff

In the meantime, I would like to draw your attention to a few interesting YouTube videos, on the benefits of hands-only CPR – I’ll be talking about this in more detail later this week, but have a watch, and please let me know what you think.

The British version:

And the American version:

Oh, and if you’re on Twitter – please follow me…you get inane ramblings from me when I’m in lectures or on placement, and random retweets, mostly health related! I try to keep everything roughly on subject…

So, yeah, I’m counting down the weeks now – 10 and a half weeks to go until I start my course at Sheffield Hallam…

We had a pre course day at university yesterday, with lots of photocopying, ID checking, qualification checking, and getting drained of blood. All routing stuff for health students apparently…  Was really good to meet coursemates though, and see the spread of people we’re going to have on the course. There’s way more girls than guys, but that doesn’t surprise me. Neither does the age spread really, but interesting to see – there’s a few school leavers at 18 (aww, little babies), a few roughly my age (mid-20’s-ish), a few slightly older, and then a few middle aged people. Should be good though with a spread of skills, life experience, and clinical experience…

Next Tuesday, we’ve got another day where we get to meet our course tutors, get a provisional timetable, and meet our Ambulance Service people who we’re going to be on placement with.  Yes, I am ridiculously excited!!

You know, I’ve been thinking recently what I’m getting myself into – doesn’t help that I’m essentially counting down the weeks until I start because I am so excited about it, and that what I’m doing for a job at the moment is driving me nuts! I am excited to start, I really am, but I’m also nervous and scared. Having spoken to a few people recently, the consensus is that it’s a job that very few people want to do… Now, I thought it was pretty standard – it’s a job, something that I think I’d enjoy, but now it’s making me a bit apprehensive.

And yeah, I’m counting down the weeks – 13 and a half weeks until I start by the way! But that doesn’t make it any easier. I know I worry a fair bit about things – I kinda tend to over-analyse things, plan too far in the future, and worry – people know this about me. But I’m going to be caring for people, looking after people, potentially have someone’s life in my hand – and that scares me ***less!! So does the thought of doing things like cannulating, in fact anything where I have to stick something into someone!

Meh, just needed to get that out – I like having this blog to write stuff like this, and I hope it’ll help!

So a while ago, I shared a story I had read, and said that it near enough summed up why I wanted to be a paramedic. Well, I was reading a Clive Cussler book this morning, called Skeleton Coast and came across an interesting description that I wanted to share – about the differences between being a doctor and being a paramedic.

“Doctors are backed by a huge staff of nurses and technicians and millions of dollars’ worth of equipment.  But paramedics are different.  They are out there working in pairs with just their wits and a minimum of gear.  They have to make the first critical assessments and often perform the first life-saving acts.  They’re there to tell you everything is going to be all right and make damn sure it is.  And once you get the person to hospital you simply fade away.  No glory, no God complex, no “gee doc, you’ve saved my life”.  You just do your job and go on to the next.”

This, I feel, sums up exactly why I want to be paramedic as opposed to being a doctor, and I suppose that it’s why I’ve always wanted to be a paramedic, alongside the fact that I have never wanted a job where I have to wear a suit and tie and sit behind a desk and computer all day – fine for some people, but not me (I’ve tried it and I loathe it with a passion).

As a little experiment, just think – if you or a relative has ever had the misfortune to need an ambulance…can you or they remember the name of the paramedic or technician that attended you and did that initial assessment, potentially saving a life, and then just drove away from the hospital? If you or your relative was seriously ill or injured, chances are that you’ll remember the name of one or two of the doctors who played a crucial role in their recovery, but can you remember the name of that green suited angel that was the first person to show up? And as an extension of this…did you say thank you to that person? If you did, then pat yourself on the back and have a thank you from me, but if you didn’t, just ask yourself – why would you say thank you to a doctor in hospital but not to a ambulance person? I know that it is their job, but it’s still nice to get a thank you, so next time you have to call an ambulance, and I hope that you don’t, just think what that person does, and please go out of your way to say thank you. It takes two seconds and will make that persons day.

Thank you.