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Ambulance service pays tribute to staff hailing from Australia to Alnwick on International Paramedic

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

Article by Sam Volpe at Chronicle Live

A former semi-pro cyclist and an ex-race mechanic from Australia are among the paramedics in our region celebrating the first ever day in honour of their profession.

On the first ever International Paramedics Day, first responders from the North East Ambulance Service including Vince Potter, Rachael Knox and Luke Morrison have reflected on the best parts of their jobs and the challenges of working on the frontline during a global pandemic.

There are 812 paramedics working for NEAS in our area - and they work alongside clinical care assistants and technicians to attend more than 385,000 people in need every year. As well as out on the roads, there are 22 paramedics working in supporting NHS roles.

Vince joined NEAS - initially in its patient transport service - 25 years ago. However after eight years he qualified as a paramedic in 2005 and is currently a rapid response paramedic. Vince who works in Teesside, was a semi-professional cyclist before changing careers. He said one of his favourite memories was helping bring a new life into the world.

"I’ve had so many amazing moments throughout my career, but a very memorable moment was supporting with my first delivery," he said. "The parents named the baby Linda after my crew mate and it’s a nice memory for me. Linda actually inspired me to push to become a paramedic!"

Speaking about his role, he said that while he still attended the most serious incidents, that wasn't his entire job. "What’s unique is I attend a lot of 111, GP follow ups and backup calls, focusing on the most appropriate care pathway for the patient, whether that’s leaving them at home, organising a follow up with a specialist COPD at home team, or arranging medication via a GP for a urinary tract infection."

Rachael Knox - a clinical education officer at NEAS as well as being a qualified paramedic, also developed her career at the service. Having previously worked in the operations hub, she trained in emergency care in 2014 and qualified as a fully-fledged paramedic in 2017. She said: "“I love that as a dual role professional I am able to assist with patient care on a wider scale; by ensuring that I help to provide training to my frontline colleagues I am able to make a difference to lots of patients. I can honestly say that I love coming to work!"

Rachael also explained that she enjoyed seeing her colleagues progress and was focussed on creating a "more patient-centred approach to pre-hospital care".

Luke Morrison has travelled quite some way to be an NEAS paramedic - before moving to the UK to, at first, work for the London Ambulance Service, he worked as a race mechanic in Australia. He's now a specialist who responds to help save the lives of the most critically ill and injured patients. Luke has also published research examining aspects of the job.

“I was looking for a role where I could respond to the most critically ill patients so this role at NEAS really appealed to me,” he said. “I joined NEAS just before Covid so it was a tough initiation! I love my job and I’m passionate about prehospital care and paramedicine. As paramedics we are the experts in prehospital care. I’m particularly interested in ensuring we get the basics right."

Paul Aitken-Fell, is the ambulance service's lead consultant paramedic. He's spent 20 years at NEAS and paid tribute to the "highly-skilled clinicians" that make up the paramedic workforce. He added: "We have progressed as a profession and that’s down to the professionalism of the staff we have at NEAS. Whether it’s delivering trauma care for blue lights and siren incidents or supporting primary care by providing care at home to patients with long term conditions like COPD, our paramedics are often the first line of care and support for the North East public, and it’s an honour to play a part in that."

He added that a career as a paramedic could "now take you in so many directions", but added: "NEAS is a team, it isn’t just about paramedics. So I would like to extend my personal thanks to our technicians, our clinical care assistants, our Scheduled Care team, dispatch team, call handlers and clinicians."

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