A paramedic is the senior healthcare professional at an accident or a medical emergency. Working on their own, or with an emergency care assistant or ambulance technician, they assess the patient's condition and give essential treatment.
They'll administer oxygen and drugs and use high-tech equipment, such as defibrillators, spinal and traction splints, and intravenous drips, as needed.
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A paramedic is often one of the first healthcare professionals on the scene of a accident or emergency. They are usually one of a two-person ambulance crew, with an emergency care assistant or ambulance technician to assist them.
Others will work on their own and use a motorbike, emergency response car or even a bicycle to reach their patients. With extra training, paramedics can become members of an air ambulance crew.
When they arrive at the scene, they will assess the patient's condition and take potentially life-saving decisions about the treatment needed. If appropriate, they'll then administer the treatment.
They are trained to drive what is in effect a mobile emergency clinic and to resuscitate/stabilise patients using sophisticated techniques, equipment and drugs.
Paramedics are called out to a range of different incidents. It could be someone who has fallen from scaffolding or an elderly person with a suspected stroke.
Based at a local ambulance station or a large hospital, paramedics work shifts including evenings and weekends, going out in all weathers at all hours of the night or day. They work closely with doctors and nurses in hospital accident and emergency departments, briefing them as their patient arrives at hospital.
They also deal with patients' relatives and members of the public, some of whom may be hysterical or aggressive. They also often work alongside the police and fire brigade.
In many ambulance service trusts, trainees receive a salary whilst training on the job. For further information on the funding available, please contact the individual ambulance service trust within your region.
Students on full-time courses in paramedic science do not attract financial support through the NHS Bursary Scheme. However, in some cases there may be local funding arrangements between the NHS and some universities, so you are advised to contact universities directly to enquire about these.
With further experience, you might take on one of the developing roles in the community as a senior paramedic. Here you could be based in one of a number of different settings, such as a GP surgery, minor injuries unit or hospital accident and emergency department. You will usually need extra training and qualifications for this.
All ambulance service trusts in England and Wales advertise on NHS Jobs. You could also visit ambulance service trust websites directly and Jobcentre Plus.
Please visit the NHS Choices for details of ambulance service trusts.
College of Paramedics