A paramedic responds to emergency calls as part of an emergency team or as a first responder using procedures they have been trained to do. They usually work in a two-person crew alongside a technician or care assistant. However, they can also work on their own using a motorbike to attend to a call out.
You could be:
- assessing the patient's condition and making a decision on treatment
- operating advanced life saving or life support equipment in emergency situations
- using defibrillators (to restore the heart's rhythm), spinal and traction splints, and intravenous drips
- giving medication and oxygen to patients in emergency situations
- taking charge at an incident until a senior officer arrives
- handing over the patient to the medical or nursing staff at the hospital, giving them a factual and accurate verbal report of the patient’s condition
- completing patient report forms
- working with police and fire service crews.
Ambulance staff who work for the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change scales. The current pay scales are from April 2017. Paramedics are on Band 6, £26,830 to £35,933 a year.
- Your base would be the ambulance station or hospital but you would spend much of your time out in the ambulance attending to patients in accidents and emergencies.
- You would work shifts including evenings, nights and weekends.
- You would wear a uniform or sometimes other protective clothing such as helmet or high visibility jacket.
Workforce Employment Status
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- Starting in September 2018, Glasgow Caledonian University are offering the BSc Paramedic Science, which on successful completion allows you to apply for vacancies as a qualified paramedic.
- Alternatively, you must first qualify as an ambulance technician before progressing to paramedic (see job profile for Ambulance Technician).
- Once you have qualified as an ambulance technician, you can apply to train as an ambulance paramedic, but only if a vacancy is available.
- For entry into the Scottish Ambulance Service as a technician, you must have a minimum of National 4 or 5 in English and Maths.
- All applicants must pass the Scottish Ambulance Service entrance test including accident and emergency fitness test, interview and occupational health screening.
- You must have a full current Category C1 driving licence. You will also be required to undertake a pre-employment driving assessment.
- You must pass an entrance exam and a medical examination. You must be physically fit.
- You will require a satisfactory PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) check to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details.
Job vacancies appear on the My Job Scotland website, the local press, in Jobcentre Plus offices and on the Universal Jobmatch website. Most ambulance work is with the NHS, but there are also jobs with the armed services. There are some private ambulance companies around the UK including one or two in Scotland.
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What Does it Take?
You should be:
- able to get on with people from all backgrounds and of all ages
- patient and understanding – you will be dealing with patients who may be distressed or in pain
- able to work well in a team
- willing to take responsibility
- able to remain calm in emergencies and cope with unpleasant sights
- quick thinking and able to make decisions in difficult situations
- resilient and able to deal with the emotional impact of distressing situations.
- You will be enrolled onto the Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE) in Paramedic Practice at the Scottish Ambulance Academy (based within the School of Health at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU)).
- This is delivered over a two year period.
- In year 1 you spend 13 weeks at the Scottish Ambulance Academy, followed by 39 weeks in practice placement. The total required learning in year 1 is 1,500 hours.
- In year 2 you have two five-week blocks of teaching at the Scottish Ambulance Academy, each followed by 21 weeks of practice placement.
- Successful completion of the DipHE Paramedic Practice leads to eligibility to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
- You may be promoted to senior paramedic working from a response car.
- With experience you could become a clinical advisor within an Emergency Medical Dispatch Centre.
- With further training you could join the air ambulance service which operates from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Inverness.
The Scottish Government has committed over the next five years to train 1,000 new paramedics, with over 200 new paramedics trained in 2016, as part of the first phase.
The location of the Scottish Ambulance Academy allows ambulance staff to have the opportunity to train alongside police and fire service colleagues, for example, in simulated road traffic collisions.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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