A Day in the Life of a Paramedic
If you're thinking about a career in Paramedic Science, here you can find out first hand what a typical day in the life of a Paramedic is like, from Senior Lecturer and Specialist Paramedic (Urgent and Emergency Care), Paul Vigar.
Our shift was an 0640-1700 day shift in East Kent, it was the middle of winter and a very cold day.
There were no night crews on Station when my colleague and I arrived at work around 0630, they were still out attending emergency calls. We booked on to an ambulance in the garage and contacted Emergency Dispatch Centre staff on the radio in order to advise them of our shift times and qualifications before beginning our vehicle checks. I checked the medical equipment and drugs in the cabin area of the ambulance whilst my colleague checked the oil, water, lights, tyres and fuel level.
As we came to the end of our vehicle checks at 0705 we were activated on our first emergency call of the day to an elderly man with end stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He was having great difficulty breathing despite using his own medication and his wife had called 999 in light of his deterioration.
As we came to the end of our vehicle checks at 0705 we were activated on our first emergency call of the day to an elderly man with end stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Following a rapid assessment of his condition we began treating his COPD exacerbation with drug and oxygen therapy relieving his symptoms. In light of this improvement and his recent medical history we did not feel he needed to attend hospital at this time and so we referred him to the Respiratory Team for further assessment and review in the community with advice to call 999 if his condition was to deteriorate again.
Once ‘green’ and available on scene we were asked to go to a nearby response base at a medical centre to provide cover for a neighbouring town. We had only just made it through the doors when we received our next emergency call but were stood down a mile down the road before receiving any further details. We were asked to return to our standby point.
We had only just made it through the doors when we received our next emergency call.
Ten minutes later we were sent to an elderly female who had fallen in the early hours of the morning and had been found by her carer who was unable to help her up and had dialled 999. On initial assessment the patient did not appear to be injured although it was difficult to get a history due to the fact she suffered from short-term memory loss. We helped her off of the floor and spoke to her carer and care manager about her daily living arrangements to include visits by carers as part of our assessment. Whilst she did not appear to be injured we were keen to see her mobilise before we left to ensure that she was safe to be left at home but noticed an altered gait; she was dragging her right foot. The carer reported that she had been doing this for about a week but that there was no obvious cause or reason for this. On further examination we detected some bony tenderness to one of the bones in her foot and so we transported our patient to hospital for an x-ray and further assessment.
Once we had handed over our patient to hospital staff, booked them in at reception and tidied up the ambulance we were activated on our next emergency call to a collapsed male.
Our patient was about to get into his car when he collapsed unconscious with no warning. His wife was with him and had witnessed the incident. On arrival he was sitting on a dining room chair on his drive and a Police Community Support Officer was comforting his wife and neighbours having come across the incident. Our patient had banged his head when he collapsed so following our initial assessment we moved him onto the ambulance for further examination. He had no recollection of the collapse and reported no symptoms prior to the episode. His blood pressure was unusually low and so he was transported to hospital for further assessment with his wife as an escort.
Our patient was about to get into his car when he collapsed unconscious with no warning.
On the way back to the ambulance station we got our next call to attend a patient with a possible urine infection, we had been requested by a Paramedic on a response car who was already with the patient. Before we got there however, we were diverted to an elderly man who was pale, sweating profusely and felt very dizzy. On assessment, our patients pulse was very slow, about 30 beats per minute. We carried out a quick ECG (heart trace), began high flow oxygen therapy and obtained intravenous access by inserting a cannula into his arm before administering medication with a view to speeding up his heart rate and stabilising his condition. Following a brief improvement in his condition he quickly deteriorated and his heart rate returned to being slow and abnormal in nature. We transported him to the nearest hospital for further assessment and management with a priority call in order to alert hospital staff of our imminent arrival.
By the time we had finished this call it was about 1400 and we had not yet had a break so we were instructed to make our way to the nearest ambulance station for our meal break. After 32 minutes we were activated on an emergency transfer. We travelled 18 miles under emergency driving conditions to pick up a patient from a hospital ward and transfer them to the renal unit of another hospital.
We were on our way back to our base for the end of our shift when at 1650 we were activated on our last emergency call of the day to a patient that a General Practitioner (GP) had attended. Our patient was an elderly lady who was dehydrated and needed further assessment in hospital and so we transported her to hospital before returning to our base station at 1820, ninety minutes after our scheduled shift finish time.
The shift had been busy but rewarding. We fulfilled our role in emergency care as well as our community responsibilities.
The shift had been busy but rewarding. We fulfilled our role in emergency care as well as our community responsibilities. We had attended a number of emergency calls, some requiring all our knowledge and skills. The community-based calls called upon different skills within paramedic practice, equally necessary to the communities we serve.