Amidst the pained screams, contorted metal and flagrant panic of a serious road traffic accident, a cool head and calm voice rises above the shriek of the ambulance siren and the urgent flicker of the blue flashing lights.
Quickly assessing the severity of the situation, this unruffled figure has the ability to make lightning quick decisions and administer the appropriate treatment that, quite literally, could be the difference between life and death.
Admittedly, this extraordinary individual may sound like a gallant superhero plucked from the pages of Marvel Comics, but these are just a few of the many qualities possessed by members of the paramedic service up and down the UK.
Keen to get involved?
Upsurge in Emergency Calls
With 999 calls predicted to rise 20 per cent year on year, it means there are plenty of opportunities for those eager to work as part of a multidisciplinary medical team in a challenging and fast-paced environment.
According to David Davis, director of communications for the College of Paramedics (CoP): “There are always going to be posts that need to be filled and it’s not just in the ambulance service where jobs can be found – paramedics can do really good work across a range of healthcare settings.”
When we consider the upsurge in the number of 999 calls, then, it’s little wonder the need for skilled paramedics is greater than ever. However, a report in the Guardian has revealed many ambulance trusts are facing efficiency savings on top of increasing demand.
Worryingly, figures obtained by the BBC have revealed at least 1,015 paramedics left their job in 2013-14, compared with 593 in the same period two years earlier, with Dr Fiona Moore, medical director for London Ambulance Service, estimating a national shortfall of up to 3,000 paramedics.
Qualifying As a Paramedic
Although the Department of Health in England has provided £28m to ambulance trusts in a bid to help them cope with this relentless spike in emergency calls, it’s clear there’s still an urgent need for university educated recruits to lessen the load.
As you might expect, then, becoming a fully-fledged member of the paramedic service requires the appropriate academic qualifications, which means an exciting mix of hands-on learning backed up with the appropriate theory.
Typically, a paramedic science degree course teaches you everything you need to work as a paramedic, offering you the opportunity to hone your skills in the lab, practice on mannequins and familiarise yourself with the specialist equipment used on the job.
But that’s not all …
To reinforce your practical skills and your theoretical learning, you’ll be sent on a clinical placement with local ambulance trusts, giving the kind of experience you simply can’t learn giving mouth-to-mouth on a dummy in the classroom.
Advancing Your Career
Once you’ve gained your degree, however, the learning doesn’t stop there.
In an effort to stay on top of what is still a rapidly evolving service (paramedics have only been around for 10-15 years), it’s important to keep up with industry developments and best practice to make sure patients continue to receive the best possible care.
Indeed, although paramedics aren’t subject to the same appraisal and revalidation process as doctors, for instance, you will be under the watchful eye of a senior paramedic, who’ll be on hand to assist with any issues that may arise.
Moving forward, of course, there’s the opportunity to take on the role of senior paramedic yourself, while other graduates may choose to move into the air ambulance team or hazardous area response team (HEMS).
So if you’ve got a cool head, a steady hand, the ability to work well under pressure and the overwhelming urge to help people, consider furthering your career with a paramedic degree – you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.