Watching all these medical reality shows on TV makes me hanker for one of my careers. I spent almost twenty five years in various UK ambulance services, from paramedic all the way up to becoming one of the youngest chief ambulance officers in the UK. I must admit that, looking back, I really enjoyed my time 'on the road'. The trouble with advancing through the ranks is although the pay and benefits are better you tend to become embroiled in budgets and politics rather than patient care. Of course, it is not a fun job dealing with death, injury and illness but there were times of joy too, particularly when successfully saving a patients life or delivering a baby. I left around 1996 so it all seems such a long time ago.
In the early days we were all called 'ambulance drivers' by the public and now everyone is a paramedic. When I qualified it was a six week theory course followed by a month in hospital learning advanced techniques while now it is, quite properly, a degree-based qualification.
I can remember back in the mid 70's being regarded rather suspiciously by nursing staff who were sometimes quite jealous of the skills we could carry out compared to them. Times move on now though and paramedics are a very important part of the multi-disciplinary health care team.
From speaking to ex-colleagues still working within the ambulance service, and my own observations, it is quite clear that politics still play a huge part within the health care system. Sometimes I wistfully think back to those days when we could grab a cuppa and chat to the nurses or follow up a case with the A&E doctors. Still life moves on and nothing is forever,
I value my time helping people and hope that I contributed to the health and well-being of a few folk along the way. I have kept my first aid skills up so on the odd occasion I come across an accident I can still stop and help until the professionals arrive.
Our front line ambulance troops do a great job, as do the other emergency services, so they will always get my help and support.