Thank you to North East paramedics

North East Ambulance Service is today paying tribute to the region’s life-savers on the first ever International Paramedics Day

International Paramedics Day has been launched by the College of Paramedics to recognise and celebrate the work that paramedics and first responders around the world do to give their patients the best possible treatment and care and improve the outcomes for those who are injured or unwell.

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) employs 812 paramedics across the region, working in both front line and support service roles, touching the lives of thousands of members of the public every year.

The majority of the Trust’s paramedics work out on the road on an ambulance or specialist vehicle, working as a team alongside clinical care assistants and technicians to attend to more than 385,000 patients every year. Supporting them from within the Clinical Assessment Service alongside nurses, GPs and other specialist roles are a team of 22 paramedics supporting patients over the phone.

As well as offering NEAS employees the opportunity to do an internal paramedic apprenticeship, the Trust offers placements for external paramedic students every year throughout their three-year degree, with around 400 student paramedics currently gaining the key skills and knowledge working with mentor paramedics around the region.

Paul Aitken-Fell, lead consultant paramedic at NEAS, said: “I joined NEAS 20 years ago as a trainee technician, having started my ambulance career with the British Red Cross.

“The paramedic workforce has come on massively in that time. Long gone are the days of ambulance drivers, employed to pick up patients on stretchers and take them to hospital. Our paramedic workforce are now highly skilled clinicians, responsible for delivering first-class patient care in a variety of ways. We have progressed as a profession and that’s down to the professionalism of the staff we have at NEAS.

“Whether it’s delivering trauma care for blue lights and siren incidents or supporting primary care by providing care at home to patients with long term conditions like COPD, our paramedics are often the first line of care and support for the North East public, and it’s an honour to play a part in that.

“A career as a paramedic can now take you in so many directions. Whether you want to work on an ambulance or our Hazardous Area Response Team, in a specialist role such as research or trauma, support our Emergency Operations Centre patients and health advisors as part of the Clinical Assessment Service, work within GP surgeries as a First Care Paramedic Practitioner, or support our frontline crews by working in a non-clinical role such as patient safety or quality improvement, we have something for everyone.

“There is, quite rightly, a concentration today on paramedics, but NEAS is a team, it isn’t just about paramedics. So I would like to extend my personal thanks to our technicians, our clinical care assistants, our Scheduled Care team, dispatch team, call handlers and clinicians – we have a phenomenal workforce, one a massive team, doing the best for our patients, and I’m really proud of them all.”

The date chosen marks the anniversary of the birth of Dominique-Jean Larrey, the man often referred to as the 'father of modern-day ambulance services'.

It will be a day dedicated to the world's paramedics who have gone above and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic, often at great risk to themselves and their loved ones.

The theme of the inaugural event is 'Proud to be a Paramedic' which it is hoped will resonate with paramedics everywhere, regardless of which area of paramedicine they practice in.

In the build-up to the event and on the day itself, NEAS asked its paramedics to share their stories and memories.

Prior to joining NEAS through the patient transport service in 1997, Vince Potter was a semi-professional cyclist. He went on to become a technician before qualifying as a paramedic in 2005 and now works as a rapid response paramedic, providing timely efficient care to the patients of Teesside. 

“My role is slightly different to a paramedic working on a double crewed ambulance. I still attend all the most serious cases, but what’s unique is I attend a lot of 111, GP follow ups and backup calls, focusing on the most appropriate care pathway for the patient, whether that’s leaving them at home, organising a follow up with a specialist COPD at home team, or arranging medication via a GP for a urinary tract infection. My role is very autonomous, utilising my 25 years’ experience and knowledge to ultimately give the best care and appropriate care for the patients we serve, and reduce hospital admissions where I am able.

“I’ve had so many amazing moments throughout my career, but a very memorable moment was supporting with my first delivery. The parents named the baby Linda after my crew mate and it’s a nice memory for me. Linda actually inspired me to push to become a paramedic!”

Clinical education officer, Rachael Knox, joined NEAS in 2009 working on the bed register within the Emergency Operations Centre, monitoring availability of critical care beds across the region. She trained as an emergency care technician in 2014, prior to qualifying as a paramedic in 2017, and is now responsible for delivering a range of training programmes to both new and current staff.

She said: “I love that as a dual role professional I am able to assist with patient care on a wider scale; by ensuring that I help to provide training to my frontline colleagues I am able to make a difference to lots of patients. I can honestly say that I love coming to work!

“I see my colleagues continuously working towards their own professional development in order to provide a high level of care to our patients, ensuring that we have the knowledge and skills to not only care for them in time critical situations, but deliver care for minor injuries, social situations and safeguarding concerns, all of which create a more patient centred approach to pre-hospital care.”

Pallion-based clinical team leader Adam Gibb swapped a professional acting and singing career to join the ambulance service in 2013 and qualified as a paramedic two years later. He is now a clinical team leader, providing clinical leadership, clinical advice and support to operational colleagues at the scene of incidents and remotely within the Trust’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).

“I love working closely our frontline and EOC teams,” he said. “By working alongside and providing support and advice to our front-line clinicians and EOC colleagues, we can provide the very best care to our patients by ensuring they get the right resource, first time. It amazes me how much they care about our patients, but how much of a laugh we have while doing it.”

Australian-born paramedic Luke Morrison worked as a nurse and a race mechanic whilst studying for his paramedicine degree and moved to the UK to work for London Ambulance Service, before being tempted by a career opportunity up north to work as a specialist paramedic, responding to the critically ill and injured patients.

“I was looking for a role where I could respond to the most critically ill patients so this role at NEAS really appealed to me,” he said. “I joined NEAS just before Covid so it was a tough initiation!

“I love my job and I’m passionate about prehospital care and paramedicine. As paramedics we are the experts in prehospital care. I’m particularly interested in ensuring we get the basics right and I’ve published a couple of papers in my spare time, one on stroke and another on Phenytoin.”

Read our paramedic case studies here.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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