Jun 27, 2011

Deceptive Paramedic Practices

The sight of an ambulance and/or a stationary paramedic car is reassuring – they are crewed by highly trained paramedics, trained to save us from the most serious of accidents and near fatal occurrences – or so you think!

We have learned that ambulances are often crewed by a technician and a student paramedic, a technician and an emergency care assistant (an ECA - a well-trained first aider). On some occasions ambulances are staffed by just two ECA’s.

Although the technicians are highly trained, they are not licenced to complete all life-saving procedures or administer life-saving drugs.  They cannot administer morphine to control severe pain and in the case of cardiac arrest, cannot interpret the ECG printout.  The students and the ECA’s have limited skills, yet we are told these crews attend life threatening events and then have to wait for a paramedic to attend – in some case they wait for over an hour and of course, the first 60 minutes (or “golden hour” - the time that serious ailments/injuries have to be treated to ensure survival) has passed before the paramedic has attended.

We are told the reason for this questionable practice is costs – an ECA’s wage is about 25% of a paramedics’.  We are also told many Trusts are not finalising the training of their student paramedics – as soon as they are trained in all the life savings skills of a fully-fledged paramedic, they are entitled to a paramedic’s wage!

If you have direct knowledge of the above, we would like to hear from you.  If you have been a casualty and your treatment or evacuation to hospital has been delayed, we ask you to contact us.

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