16 May 2016
Alex shares his experiences of his first four weeks on placement as a student paramedic with Camden Ambulance Station.
It’s coming up to the final week of my first ever block placement. So far four weeks on the road has truly lived up to its expectations. I came into Camden Ambulance Station in early April not knowing what to expect and certainly not being prepared for the sheer diversity of the jobs we can go to.
People often say to me “Oh, you work for the ambulance service, you must see some pretty bad things all the time!” where as a matter of fact we don’t attend many of these ‘bad things’ as often as people would think. Going by statistics, trauma accounts for 10% of our calls, however I would happily suggest it’s more like 5%. Many times when you attend a traumatic incident it tends to be either quite significant and/or life changing or, in fact, it’s relatively small and the injuries just sound bad over the radio. So far I have attended a few Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) where there have been multiple trauma patients but most of our work consists of less serious injuries and more urgent care.
In a typical 12 hour day shift my crew mates and I can attend roughly between six and nine calls. Depending on the type of presenting complaint the patient has (e.g. an asthma attack), there is no set time for being on scene. I can’t tell you how many panic attacks I have been to, whether it’s the intoxicated 19 year old outside a club who’s lost their friends or the grieving mother of three who’s struggling to cope with life after losing her husband to cancer. Sometimes with these calls it’s just a simple hand on the shoulder which can cure the problem for the time being. The stigma around mental health is putting pressure of the ambulance service; with a lack of funding for mental health services people find the best, quickest help for them through us. Medically we don’t treat a panic attack, instead we try to calm the patient down and return their breathing back to normal.
I have been very lucky in attending very polite and nice patients, only a few times have I been verbally abused. Almost every call I have been to relating to panic attacks, the patient has always thanked us for turning up. Quite frequently I wonder why they thank us, as all we do is calm their breathing down. But for them it’s more than just medical treatment, it’s a step in the right direction. From the point of turning up on scene to treating the patient, we ask as many relevant and appropriate questions as we can in order to seek further help for them. As a result I have put in a lot of referrals for patients that have urgent care needs – this is further and more specific help for the individual, which is greatly appreciated.
I will write one more blog on placement at the end of my shifts, thank you for reading.
Alex studies Paramedic Science at ARU. You can find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.