UCS paramedic course proving a big success
- Credit: Archant
Just a few months into their course they helped people with life-threatening conditions, unwell patients and, on one occasion, even helped to deliver a baby.
And as UCS today prepares for its next paramedic science programme intake, course leader Lee Cunnell, who has been a paramedic since 1991, is confident the ambulance service’s training drive will boost the trust’s performance.
The BSc (Hons) course has now been running for about a year and involves students training in the classroom and then getting out on the road with a practice educator.
“They are having a great time and they have given us lots of stories,” said Mr Cunnell.
“They have delivered babies and they have gone to a lot of what people think are the traditional things that paramedics go to, such as car crashes and trauma cases.”
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The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) launched its first programme to recruit 400 student paramedics at the beginning of 2014 under then temporary chief executive Dr Anthony Marsh.
UCS has since worked in conjunction with the trust to create its course.
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The three-year programme, which follows the College of Paramedics’ requirements that half of the course should be practice-based, takes a more “holistic approach” to the job, as it looks at a range of issues, including mental health.
And Mr Cunnell, who has been a university lecturer since 2009, is confident it will prove to be positive for Suffolk patients in the future.
“We have got students from Wales, Jersey and the Midlands and they are all coming to the area and having such a good time with their practice educators that they are talking about moving their lives here and caring for patients here.
“It is really good for our locality because it is bringing new resources into the profession and they are interested in staying.”
Among the 12 students who were among the first cohort at UCS was 28-year-old Adam Houndlea, of Jersey.
The former health care assistant was coming to the end of his first placement when he experienced one of the more unique call-outs.
He said: “My placement location is Ipswich but I have been all over, I’m mostly in a rapid response vehicle most of the time.
“A highlight so far is that I helped to deliver a baby with my mentor Colin. I was there as a support for the lady giving birth in her bathroom, holding her hand, rubbing her back.
“As the baby came out I took the cord from around its neck. Giving her TLC. I said to Colin I hope I get to see a baby being delivered. You see it on TV and it’s just not the same as live. It was an amazing experience, one of my best so far. It was right at the end of the first 10 week placement, about a week before so a nice thing to finish on before the summer holidays.
“Delivering a baby was great but then you see the other end of the scale, I’ve seen someone who has been hit by a train, I’ve seen someone who has been deceased for long time, children who are unwell. As soon as you’ve been to a bad job there’s control room to check everything is ok, to see if you need a break, stop off for a cup of tea and a debrief with your colleagues.”
The next cohort of paramedic science students will begin this month, and following a successful first year, Mr Cunnell is confident the programme will help improve the service in many ways.
He added: “EEAST had a lot of difficulties, as have all paramedic services, and what we need to do is look towards the future. The traditional approach is to bring people into hospital so we need to look at new and better ways of looking after patients. To do that we need paramedics who can assess patients and signpost them to better care.”