First traumatic experience

Vanessa Groom

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

1 May 2018

I was a nervous wreck turning up to Islington Ambulance Station at the beginning of my placement. I was introduced to my mentor and crew mate (I had absolutely no reason to be scared as they are lovely) and given a quick tour of the station and ambulances.

Less than an hour later our first job of the day came through – patient feeling generally unwell. I took a backseat on the first job and observed how my mentor and crew mate worked and communicate with patients. My confidence soon began to grow and I found myself doing observations, ECG’s and taking a history from patients. The shifts flew over and I was loving every second, blue light drives and being involved with real patients is what I’ve waited so long to do!

The modern-day media paint a picture that the ambulance service go to trauma, blood and gore…this isn’t usually the case, however on my third and final shift of the week I had my first exposure of this. We were called to a Cat 1 - the most serious category of jobs which require an urgent ambulance. The call came down as ‘young person, fall from height, unconscious and not breathing’. Immediately there was a rush of adrenaline through my entire body as we made our way through the London traffic, I prepared myself for the worst while trying to remember everything I had been taught at University.

On arrival it was obvious the patient had very traumatic injuries. We secured an airway and I took over CPR from my mentor, with police, Advanced Paramedics, HART (Hazardous Area Response Team) and HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) all beginning to arrive. This was my first experience of CPR on a real person, and it was even more hard work than on the dummies in the skills labs! I also helped with ventilation and manual traction to try and stem any internal bleeding – this is when the severity of the patient’s internal injuries sunk in. I was surprised at how calm the scene was compared to how I imagined on the way. Basic and advanced life support methods were used, IV access secured and a pelvic binder was applied. Unfortunately, after the best efforts from everyone involved, ROLE (Recognition of Life Extinct) was called.

The most difficult part of this whole job for me was the emotions of the family on scene, I can’t even imagine the horror they experienced that night. A debrief was carried out on scene, discussing what each individual contributed. This gave me confidence that we did everything we could have for that patient, and helped me come to terms with what I did and saw.

Both the LAS (London Ambulance Service) and the University have been amazing by contacting me following this job, offering many methods of support. If anything, it has made me realise this is 100% the job for me and I want to help as many people as I can.

I am soon to start my first block of night shifts and I’m eager to see what they have in store!

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