Work of Paramedics: Interview with Health Professional

Introduction

In the modern world, responders to emergency medical needs like an accident on the road or an earthquake are very important for the response team and other cases of emergency services. These are people who are highly trained and skilled in doing the duties of a physician in emergency conditions. Paramedics are able to assess and conduct an examination and even treat patients and victims of accidents with equipment and medication that are only for emergency services or are only for the emergency department. Paramedics typically work as emergency care providers and therefore work in ambulances and the first responder team. However, it is appropriate to recognize that the scope of their practice is currently changing very fast. Today, paramedics work in schools, colleges and medical facilities. To study the dynamic experience of the profession, I had an interview with Junade Samaai who is from South Africa. He is currently employed in the government sector and had previously worked for both private and government.

The Challenge on The Job

The challenges of paramedics have included working with a wide variety of equipment and interacting with a wide variety of people under tense circumstances. The more challenging issues come in the higher positions where the practitioners have to work with first responders, use of cruise ships, helicopters, fixed-wing medical transport, offshore oil drilling equipment and other dangerous specialties (O’Meara & Grbich 2009, p. 48). In most cases, they are the sole emergency medical providers in the areas they operate.

The work of paramedics should not be looked at as if they are replacing the position of the nurse as the assistant physician, rather, paramedics only augment the role of the emergency team and the intensive care unit (McMurray & Clendon, 2010, p. 102). Sometimes the job is often misinterpreted to mean anybody who shows up when the rescue team arrives and offers the aid that the first responders provide (O’Meara & Grbich 2009, p. 48). This is not true. Many people often fail to realize that there is a vast difference in the type of training, educational ability, skills and knowledge, and duty of the practitioner as first responders (Lendrum et al, 2000, p. 8). It’s a shame that many people when faced with emergencies that require medical attention call 911 to request that help (O’Meara & Grbich 2009, p. 49). This means they do not even take note of the people that come to the emergency scene first. They could be fire-fighter or EMTs who only have the basic first responder training (Velde, 2010, p. 94).

What Paramedics Enjoy

If a person has ever been to the emergency department, then one can notice the people who often run on the corridors with stretchers and through the doorways shouting to the doctors some numbers or codes. These are typical emergency medical, technicians an (EMT) and paramedics (Victoria & Jacob, 2003, p. 42). Prehistorically, in emergency medical care service provision, the paramedics rank highest and the basic level trainees are the EMT. However, these are the people who show up first at the scene of an emergency occurrence like an accident or sudden sickness and they offer immediate services like resuscitation of heart attack victims or vehicle collision victims, poisoned people, or gunshot victims. Paramedics offer primacy care in such cases (McMurray & Clendon, 2010, p. 103). Sometimes these responders also assist in child delivery and this is almost typical of their daily lives. This means that someone without a passion for helping others or a non-resilient and non-enduring person cannot work in this profession (Lendrum et al, 2000, p. 8).

What the interviewee enjoyed most was that he was able to apply all the skills he had learned like the invasive and non-invasive during a resuscitation process. Getting a patient back into a hemodynamically stable condition without neurological deficits was important. And then handing the patient over to the appropriate facility in a stable condition promising a better prognosis gives great satisfaction. Paramedics enjoy doing this type of engaging work that allows them to help others. They transport sick and injured patients to the hospital after performing some first and services to keep victims in stable conditions so that they can survive to the hospitals where they can later access specialized treatment (O’Meara, 2003, p. 201)

Successful transportation of a patient, therefore, happens when the paramedics arrive at the hospital with a victim or a patient safely and in a stable condition (O’Meara, 2003, p. 201). There is also the transferring of the patient to the nursing personnel and then giving a report of what was observed and the type of first aid given or emergency treatment used on the victims (McMurray & Clendon, 2010, p. 103). This information is very important to the attending physician and this is what the physician bases on to continue with treatment.

Paramedics also enjoy the ability to administer sophisticated medication and pre-hospital services as they have been sufficiently trained in these skills (Lendrum et al, 2000, p. 8). They are the only ones allowed to begin medication without referring to the physician desk reference book. They enjoy helping others in the use of complex equipment that the other first responder may not clearly understand how to use like the EKG and this saves lives (Victoria & Jacob, 2003, p. 42). These workers can administer drugs topically and orally and sometimes even begin intravenous administration.

Helping people in life-threatening situations is a thrilling process but gives practitioners the satisfaction they need in life but sometimes when things turn out bad, it’s quite unfortunate (Williams et al, 2010, p. 4). The paramedic like being at the forefront of operations that help people and the process of helping people can be athletic and just like other careers like fighting sometimes the paramedics usually encounter very tough situations which are a threat to their own lives as well (Williams et al, 2010, p. 4). However, the work they do is extremely good and rewarding like the process of delivering a child that went successfully.

The Challenges Frustrating the Job

Despite numerous good things that the paramedics enjoy about their work, they also face some serious difficulties that require them to be very strong both emotionally and physically so that they can be able to carry out the back-breaking, dangerous and risky tasks, decision making and the assessment of the prevailing condition (Williams et al, 2010, p. 8). The paramedics can never predict what their day would be like because of the dependence on the work feedback given by their supervisors. However being experienced in the paramedic profession one can manage well.

The paramedics work to provide expertise to ambulatory services and other emergency medical practices as the work may demand (Duffield et al, 2000, p. 92). High-tech equipment is used like defibrillators for restoring the normal heart rhythm and providing oxygen and other medication (Duffield et al, 2000, p. 92).

A major challenge has been that the paramedics are supposed to be the first people to arrive at the scene of emergency situation, like an accident or where immediate medical care is needed (Reynold & O’Donnell, 2009, p. 201; Mahony, 2003, p. 69). The emergency elements range from a host of medical, trauma, and rescue segments which are classified either as stable or critical. The work dynamics are never constant and situations, scenes scenarios change and constantly. For instance, when doing sea or swift-water rescues and aeromedical pre-hospital medicine settings are different. The most frustrating part of the profession is not having the support of the organization one is working for. The common problems from this include, lack of resources, budgetary problems, outdated equipment and facilities or some could even be non-functional, and mostly the top and middle management differ on issues.

The life of a patient or a victim entirely depends on them when they arrive at the scene of the emergency because the occurrence could be a life-threatening situation and therefore needs life-saving decisions. Any treatment that is offered at that moment has to be determined in a rather rush moment so that the patient’s victim’s position is stabilized before being transported to the hospital (Williams et al, 2010, p. 7). The paramedics assess the situation of the individual in emergency need very fast make decisions fast and then commence the treatment immediately. At this point any wrong move, like indecisiveness, poor choice of first aid help can cost the life of the victim who would otherwise have been saved hence rendering the rescue mission irrelevant (Reynold & O’Donnell, 2009, p. 201).

Paramedics practically operate what is called a mobile emergency clinic and they usually try to resuscitate and stabilize patient conditions by use of sophisticated techniques, facilities and medication (Williams et al, 2010, p. 8). They are required to be able to handle emergency situations of all kinds as they could be called out to attend to a patient who fell from scaffolding like an old person probably suffering from a stroke.

Paramedics working at a local station or who serve a very big hospital with the help of emergency crews, are supposed to work in shifts and these shifts entail working over the weekends and late nights. These workers also go out at any weather situation of weather at any hour of the day and night (Lendrum et al, 2000, p. 10).

Training and Accreditation

All paramedical undergo university training and then when they are deployed to the paramedic stations, they have to be taken through the rigorous practical training program for a full year (Velde, 2010, p. 94). This is before they can be allowed to practice and during this time, the paramedics work through an orientation program, they are trained to drive and are supervised all the time, they are also trained on the development of programs (Reynold & O’Donnell, 2009, p. 203). Once they complete this training, they are fully qualified as ambulance paramedics who are ready to work and gain more confidence with experience as time goes by (Duffield et al, 2000, p. 92).

The interviewee qualified as a male nurse in 1991 and operated as part of a resuscitation team in the emergency unit and later trauma became his specialty. He nursed for 5 years before moving to pre-hospital emergencies. He did basic and intermediate certification and later advanced certification as a paramedic with disciplines in rescue, flight and rapid response medicine. This period had taken place from 1994 to 2004.

In Australia, this training is managed and regulated by the government and therefore the policies governing this profession are government laws, certification and accreditation (Velde, 2010, p. 95). All the paramedics in Australia are required to be degree holders in healthcare courses and some even have second degree for instance a degree in Para-medicine and nursing. The training takes a minimum of three years of theory or classroom study and practical working experience (Surhone et al, 2010, p. 34). After graduation, they undergo a year of training to enable them to become competent in advanced life support practice (Velde, 2010, p. 95).

The certified paramedics are able to work and offer the very basic services in life support need situations like giving injections, heart testing, inserting the IV lines, and offering any form of drug therapy (Surhone et al, 2010, p. 34).

An advanced paramedic can provide intensive care processes like offering treatment to the cardiac arrest situations, providing intravenous adrenaline, using the laryngeal mask on patients and performing defibrillation processes (Surhone et al, 2010, p. 38). As the paramedics undergo more training and gain more experience, and with advanced training on use of various equipment, these paramedics are able to perform procedures that are medically necessary to save lives in emergency cases. The highest level of training allows a paramedic to offer intensive care services to patients and victims of risky medical situations (Surhone et al, 2010, p. 39).

Accreditation is a very important function in the Para-medicine practice and it has to be done to ensure that the services provided are quality services and that the providers are well trained. Under the Australian College of Ambulance Professionals, paramedic practitioners can be trained, evaluated and accredited in their services of emergency care (Surhone et al, 2010, p. 39). The core function of ACAP is to represent the paramedics and work in professional development and representation of membership in the professional issues.

The agency has nonetheless agreed to use the proposal by the council of the Australian Government which recommends that the National Professional Registration Scheme be used for the medical practitioner accreditation as well as the implementation of a national accreditation scheme that is independent. This means that paramedics will have to complete training and then undergo accreditation by this body. All the processes, knowledge, technologies, skills, facilities and equipment will have to be accredited and certified by this body as good for the practice. The major goal for this is to maintain the objectives of premedical which are to:

  1. Ensure that there is primacy in the safeguarding of the public (Reynold & O’Donnell, 2009, p. 201)
  2. Main a high degree of transparency in the operations of this department
  3. To adhere to the legislation and legal requirement of the profession (O’Meara 2009, p. 4)
  4. And to appropriately become accountable to the profession and the public.

The commitment to the patient-oriented program in healthcare delivery is very timely and will enhance the engagement of the community and it also enhances that the public who are consumers should play a big role in the regulation and should be appropriately informed (O’Meara 2009, p. 4)

Conclusion

Being a paramedic is a demanding undertaking where a person works almost 24 hours a day. Even though these professionals take two days off to manage their exhaustion and stress. Still, the time they work can cause serious burnout. However, the pay is very good but this could only be because of the long working hours. For people who are enthusiastic about helping others and have to zeal to save lives, this is a very good profession and many of them are very good at what they do and the public can’t help but be proud of them.

Reference List

Duffield C, McNeil F, Bullock C, & Franks H., 2000, The Role Of The Advanced Casualty Management Team In St John Ambulance Australia (New South Wales District), Australian Health Review; 23: 90-99

Lendrum K., Wilson S., & Cooke MW, ‘Does The Training Of Ambulance Personnel Match The Workload Seen?’ Pre-Hospital Immediate Care 2000; 4: 7-10

Mahony K., 2003, ‘The Politics Of Professionalization: Some Implications For The Occupation Of Ambulance Paramedics In Australia,’ Journal of Emergency Primary Health Care, Vol. 1, Issue 3-4, p. 67

McMurray A., & Clendon J., 2010, Community Health and Wellness: Primary Health Care in Practice, Elsevier Mosby, Sydney

O’Meara P & Grbich C., 2009, Paramedics In Australia: Contemporary Challenges Of Practice, Frenchs Forest, N.S.W: Pearson Education Australia.

O’Meara P., 2003, Would A Pre-Hospital Practitioner Model Improve Patient Care In Rural Australia? Emergency Medicine Journal, 20: 199-203.

O’Meara P, 2009, ‘Paramedics Marching Toward Professionalism,’ Journal Of Emergency Primary Health Care, Vol. 7, Issue 1, p. 1-10

Reynolds L & O’Donnell M, 2009, The Professionalization Of Paramedics: The Development Of Pre-Hospital Care. In: Willis E, Reynolds L, Kelleher H, Editors. Understanding The Australian Health Care System. Chatswood: Elsevier; P. 201-11

Surhone LM., Tonnoe M., & Henssonow S., 2010, Paramedics in Australia, DM Verlag Dr. Mueller AG & Co. Saarbrucken, p. 34

Velde C., 2010, International Perspectives on Competence in the Workplace: Implications for Research, Policy and Practice, Springer, Dordrecht

Victoria F., Jacob LH., 2003, EMS and the Law, Mass: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury

Williams B., Onsman A., & Brown T., (2010), ‘Professionalism: Is the Australian Paramedic Discipline a Full Profession?’ Journal of Emergency Primary Health Care (JEPHC) Vol. 8, Issue 1, Pp. 1-8