Original article hosted on: Royal Airforce News
On this International Paramedics Day, we take a closer look at the role of RAF Paramedics and their contributions to the medical field.
CORPORAL D. BUTLER
"My name is Corporal Butler and I am a RAF Paramedic at RAF Akrotiri. On a day to day basis I respond to 112 calls and work in the medical centre but I am currently on assignment in Kenya in support of the British Army Training Unit Kenya.
I joined the RAF to become a Medic and help those in need during the height of the conflict in the Middle East. I wanted to be the person that people saw coming to their aid in the most challenging and difficult times of their life and to make a positive difference whether it was treating them for the most severe injury or illness, or simply providing reassuring words. I also wanted to be able to provide a higher level of care to those in service and to support the NHS.
There are many memorable points in my career! From sitting on the back of Puma as part of a level 8 MERT treating an injured service person in Oman, to fast roping from a Merlin onto a training naval vessel as part of a Special Forces Support Group exercise, to holding the hands of a palliative patient and his wife whilst he passes away as part of my role in the civilian NHS ambulance service.
The advice I would give to someone considering becoming an RAF Paramedic would be to be committed. Life as a paramedic goes beyond finishing at 5PM on a weekday. Learning and development never stops but the rewards and satisfaction you get for helping others as a result is like no other. I can go from sitting in a medical centre assessing a 6 month old child to transferring a critically injured patient to the back of a helicopter. There’s no other job like it."
Why does the RAF have Paramedics?
Borne from the RAF Medic profession, the RAF Paramedic was introduced to support the concept of Joint Personnel Recovery and the ever-growing demands of deployed operations. The aim was to ensure that all patients received the same standard of care that would be expected in UK NHS.
Does the RAF employ RAF Reserve Paramedics?
We have the RAF Reserve Force Paramedics who are full-time NHS Paramedics and volunteer their service to support the Force requirement and operational commitment alongside regular serving RAF Paramedics. They are employed with either 4626 Squadron, based at RAF Brize Norton or as a member of 612 Squadron in Scotland. Their knowledge, experience and dedication are vital to our operational capability.
AS1 K. ROBSON "My name is AS1 Robson and I work as a Paramedic in Glasgow City Centre. I joined the RAF Medical Reserves as a Medic in February 2022, after the Covid-19 Pandemic because I wanted to further challenge myself and develop my skills.
I completed my basic training at RAF Halton in November 2022 and one of my proudest achievements thus far has been being awarded with the LAC Osborne Trophy for Top Recruit.
While working as a Paramedic in an emergency setting does keep me constantly on my toes, I feel that being a part of the RAF Reserves allows me to step out of my comfort zone even further.
The Reserves has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me, including enhancing my career skill set, taking part in adventure training and the chance to travel the world. These opportunities not only allow me to constantly expand on my professional paramedic practice, but also develop my personal qualities such as teamworking and leadership skills which are so easily transferred back into my civilian role.
I am proud to be a member of both the Scottish Ambulance Service and the RAF Reserves and work alongside amazing like-minded people who also want to make a difference."
Are RAF Paramedics the same as civilian Paramedics?
Yes, as all Paramedics, RAF or civilian, must be a registrant of the HCPC. This organisation stipulates the standard of practice and code of contact that all Paramedics must meet to be able to practice.
All RAF Paramedics have a requirement to maintain continuous clinical exposure and conduct an average of 42 clinical shifts with an Ambulance, critical care service, urgent care centre or emergency department. This alongside a continuous professional development programme, ensures they meet the standards of practice to remain registered with the HCPC.
SERGEANT S. HOWIE
"I am Sergeant Howie, and I am currently deployed on Operation Azotize in Estonia. I have been in the RAF for 16 years and qualified as a Paramedic in 2012 after the RAF funded my Paramedic Science degree at Coventry University.
I have had a varied career so far, with multiple operational deployments worldwide. I have had postings to the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service team at RAF Leuchars, had a posting providing the emergency ambulance for the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus, worked at Tactical Medical Wing at RAF Brize Norton and worked in Medical Centres at RAF Odiham and RAF Brize Norton.
My career highlight has definitely been being a member of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service. Everyone is there because they want to be, it’s a team made up from across all professions and aspects of the RAF, with a common goal of providing the best incident management and casualty care. They take people with no experience of mountaineering and train them, it makes for a great training environment.
My most challenging moment also came when I was with the RAFMRS, we were sent to a Tornado crash in Scotland, it was especially hard as it was a jet from our unit so we knew the aircrew involved. Positively though, it meant we had the opportunity to provide dignity to the deceased in getting them off the mountain. It has always stuck with me and is something I strive for in my professional practice to this day, it is important that people are afforded dignity in their dying moments and death.
There’s a lot more to being a Paramedic than you see on TV, it is still a relatively young profession both in the civilian world and in the Defence Medical Services. The softer skills of being able to talk to people, the ability to talk to people of all ages and backgrounds to quickly build up rapport, and the non-technical side of the job like incident management are just as important as the things people think we do like resuscitation."