Louise is an HPC-registered paramedic working for the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust. She studied a four-year sandwich BSc (Hons) in Paramedic Science at the University of Hertfordshire, graduating in 2011.
The London Ambulance Service sponsored my course, providing my placements, uniform and mentors throughout my time at university.
My first two years involved a variety of placements on front-line ambulances with a designated mentor. My third year was spent working as an emergency medical technician as part of a crew responding to 999 calls. The fourth year was at university completing modules and a research proposal as well as placement time where I practiced all paramedic skills under the guidance of my mentor.
After the course, there was a designated pathway for students graduating that had trained with the London Ambulance Service. I was still required to go through an interview process, but as I had already been in employment with the service, the process was straightforward.
A typical day is extremely diverse. What excites me about this career is every day is different, we may respond to anything from car accidents, heart attack, strokes, elderly patients or even delivering babies. We deal with patients with mental health problems or people under the influence of alcohol who may display challenging behaviour. Working in London there is a variety of specialist hospitals and other health services available, and I use my training and knowledge to ensure the patient receives the care they need.
I have worked as part of a crew and also on the fast response unit (FRU) as a single responder. As a solo responder it is integral you maintain your awareness and keep yourself safe. It is extremely rewarding as you are provided with the opportunity to deal with patients and make decisions regarding their care by yourself. Working on the FRU has given me exposure to patients that have immediately life-threatening conditions, which can be stressful but has developed my skills and confidence as a qualified paramedic.
My degree ensures I am trained to work on a front-line emergency ambulance and provides further career opportunities. For example, in management, clinical support, training, helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS), as well as the role of advanced paramedic. My service offers training opportunities after you have qualified to continue personal development. I have participated in two training days and now I am now a qualified mentor.
If you want to become a paramedic, you should research all training pathways available to ensure you sign on to the most appropriate route for you. Also be fully aware of the role, it is not always as dramatic as many people may think, and a large part of the job is talking to patients, providing advice and support to people whilst they are upset and stressed. My personal advice is you must really want to do the job. The training is hard but at the end you are provided with the skills to do a very rewarding job.
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