I recently had the opportunity to visit the Scottish Ambulance Service at Dr. Grays Hospital in Elgin. My mission was to hear first-hand what it takes to be a modern-day Ambulance Driver/Paramedic.
I was introduced to Paul who had left the Armed Forces and after doing some research had decided on a new, civilian career in the Scottish Ambulance Service. I also asked him what qualifications you needed to become a Paramedic and his reply showed me that there were several ways to do this.
There is a direct entry method, but this means you have to have a degree in Paramedic Science which is a three-year course at University. You can go to University to study this straight from school but at this time you would not be employed by the Scottish Ambulance Service you would be a full-time student looking to gain the qualifications to proceed in your career. Another method of entry is to join as an Ambulance Technician which is a grade beneath a Paramedic. You would be part of a two-person team of which the Paramedic would be the senior member of staff as their qualifications would be more advanced than that of an Ambulance Technician.
On joining as an Ambulance Technician, you would be a Student Technician until you have had all your training and have qualified. You can then go on and do further training to become a Paramedic. This method of entry is proving to be very successful in Moray. An Ambulance Technicians training takes about 1 year.
My next question made Paul stop and think as I asked him what advice he would give someone who was considering becoming a Paramedic. After some thought he said that you shouldn't base your research on what happens on TV, “It’s not all car accidents and heart attacks” he laughed. There are very mundane day to day tasks to be carried out, and with an ageing population and mental health issues being highlighted, days can be just making sure that those who need to be looked after are indeed seen. Some days there are not enough hours as they can't guarantee that they’ll finish, or shift ends, and other days are quiet and that is when we can do training or testing equipment.
He said “One of the best parts of the job is having the skills to save lives. Again, this may not be because of some major incident, but possibly someone who has gone into a diabetic coma or a drug over dose and due to their training, we can administer the correct drug to help them recover quickly.”
Paul finished his chat by saying that as a Career the Scottish Ambulance Service is one of the more secure jobs in the country. The pay is reasonable, the job is varied, the training is ongoing, and the working conditions are very good.
On the negative the hours can be long and health care is a 24hour and 365-day job so working on Christmas day is part of your routine. However, this is a small price to pay for having the satisfaction of doing a worthwhile job in a beautiful part of the country.
“Do a bit of research as to what the actual job is. The Paramedic Job is much wider than what people seem to think”