Lights, camera, action!

Alex Grant

Faculty: Medical Science
Course: BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science
Category: Allied and public health

20 June 2017

On return to University following out-of-ambulance placement, we've been thrown in the deep end, studying the systems of the body in great depth. And I've also become a film-maker...

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These systems include neurology, cardiology, gastro-intestinal/gastro-urinary and respiratory. Alongside these we further develop our practice on trauma and advanced life support (ALS). The module, Patient Assessment and Management II, runs for five weeks and so far it has been rather challenging at times. However, with enough practice it soon settles in!

Part of the neurological assessment at Level 5 is to perform a cranial nerve examination on the patient. This involves testing all twelve cranial nerves to look for normal function and to be able to explain the pathophysiology as to why you may find abnormalities. These five weeks of modular-based lectures and clinical skills sessions prepare us for an exam at the end of the academic year, called an OSCE (objective structured clinical examination). We have spent an equal amount of time in lectures and the clinical skills labs as well as doing scenario work at various sites around campus.

Last week, we had a whole day dedicated to trauma and critical care. This focused on heavy scenario work including an elderly faller with a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a stabbing and other high Mechanism Injuries (MOI). One scenario was a patient who was seen to fall down stairs and present in cardiac arrest. As part of a team we attended and set about our ALS protocols, however, we had to discuss collectively as to what the cause could be. Could it be a traumatic cardiac arrest, or alternatively a medical episode, which has been masked by a common MOI? As the team leader, I weighed up the options and we all agreed to follow the medical ALS protocol, which is very different to trauma. One example behind our call to do so was because the patient was in Ventricular Fibrillation (VF), which is a shockable heart rhythm commonly found in a non-traumatic cardiac arrest. We were correct in our judgement and gave the scenario all we could. The tutors here at ARU are great at throwing in curve balls like that!

Sometimes for scenarios and demonstrations we take it in turns to act as a patient instead of using a manikin, which can really make a big difference. I acted as a patient who had been stabbed and a crew of two attended the scene. One of the clinical skills tutors applied realistic make-up to create a wound-like appearance in order to make it as real as it could be. They even gave me an old top that the students could cut off to appropriately examine the injury. To play the part of a patient does give you an idea about what they experience in terms of communication from the crew, as well as the various wires from the equipment!

Alongside my University study I have been hard at work in my other ‘job’ as a photographer and filmmaker. Since February I have been working on a huge project that has finally come to public view. I have entirely created two brand new promotional videos for the Paramedic Science degree here at ARU! The videos can be viewed using the links below. It has been a great experience working closely with the Skills Tutors and friends of mine and it has truly been a team effort for filming interviews and scenarios. I can’t thank everyone involved enough for the help and so far I have received so much positive feedback! They were played at the recent Open Day we hosted at the Chelmsford campus and it was great to meet everyone, including those that read my blogs!

We now have a few more weeks of the Patient Assessment and Management module before we head back out to ambulance placement in July and August. I am so happy to have received my rota very early and will be placed at Camden in the North Central sector on a FRU (Fast Response Unit). The cars are usually held back for the more immediately life-threatening calls such as Red1s and Red2s.

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