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Why DMU's next generation of ambulance staff are proud to mark International Paramedics Day

Article by De Montfort University

They put themselves on the front line every day of the year, responding to a myriad of emergency calls to save countless numbers of lives.

So, as today marks International Paramedics Day, we have spoken to DMU’s own students in green about their Paramedicine and Associate Ambulance Practitioner courses and what it means to them to train as the next generation of life savers…

Eddie Kent, Kezia Drake and Ellie Buxton have formed a close bond at DMU.

The three students have not only seen the foundations of their chosen career laid down by their lecturers but built on them, with vital hands-on placements in rural and city centre ambulance stations.

They know what it is like to be on the road, racing to an emergency and treating the injured.

They all agree it can sometimes be daunting and is definitely an eye-opener, but, what their academics and their time on the road with their paramedic mentors has taught them is the importance of teamwork - and what it takes to save a life.

Eddie, 19, from Leamington Spa, who has just completed his two-year Associate Ambulance Practitioner Diploma, said:

“I think the pandemic showed the sort of people qualified paramedics are. There must have been a huge fear factor for those people on the front line. It was almost a guessing game as to whether you would get COVID.

“But as soon as you put that green uniform on you take your life in your own hands to save another. There is an element of sacrifice involved and paramedics never ask for anything in return. You have to take your hat off to them.”

Kezia, 19, from Derby, who is about to enter her third and final year studying BSc Paramedicine, added: “There are definitely sacrifices to be made and even the shift times will be a challenge. You can be on a 12-hour shift and it can easily run into 16 hours. You don’t just walk away if you are with a patient.

“You may be sleep deprived and you may have had an incredibly stressful day but paramedics have to put that aside. I am are there for the patient not for me. During that time, I have to put my own thoughts and feelings aside and put the patient first. Paramedics are incredible people and we are proud that we are going to be a part of that green family.

“It is such a varied job. With this qualification we could be working on a cruise ship, or at major sports events, mountain rescues – you have to be so adaptable. No matter what your interests are, you can always use these skills to help a patient somewhere.”

Ellie, 20, from Grimsby, is also about to enter her final year studying Paramedicine, and praised the DMU course, saying: “We had a rocky year with COVID but it showed the sort of cohort we are. We pulled together and always checked in on each other and helped each other if there were any big challenges to overcome.

“When you are put on the road and dealing with a road traffic collision there is nowhere to hide. You have to play your part in a team.

“Our lecture team at the uni lay down the foundations and the mentors on the road are building on those. They are the real deal and after any job there is always constructive criticism. We have to be prepared for anything and we have to get everything right. I would recommend the course to anyone.”

Kezia says the course has benefited all three of them in a huge way, adding: “I cannot imagine not doing this course now.

“Looking back to my time in 6th form and making the decision about which course was right for me, as soon as I attended a DMU Open Day I knew this was the job I wanted to do.

“This course really prepares you for the job. It is so hands on and gives you an idea of what to expect. You go out on placements, on the road with mentors, as well as getting the university experience through our lectures. It is such a good, well-balanced course.

“The best part of the course has to be the placement and being out on the road, experiencing the job and working with teams like doctors, associate ambulance practitioners, paramedics and helicopter medics.

“You can never be fully prepared. You are human and it can be a scary profession to be a part of. The lecturers are always open about that. This course prepares you to be adaptable as good clinicians and I have worked in rural stations and city stations so you understand the different jobs you have to do and travel times to hospital. It is as realistic as it could possibly be.”

Eddie added: “I have grown so much personally. I have the best of mates and I am part of a very close cohort and it gives me more confidence. It is a joy and a privilege to be able to help the community. It is a course that changes you for the better.”

International Paramedics Day falls on July 8 each year because this date marks the anniversary of the birth of Dominique Jean Larrey, the French military doctor who became Napoleon Bonaparte's chief surgeon of the Grand Armee and the man often referred to as the 'father of modern-day ambulance services’.

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