FEATURE: In at the deep end for east of England student paramedic recruits

Student paramedics Katy Davies and Chris Parkinson at Letchworth Ambulance Station,

Student paramedics Katy Davies and Chris Parkinson at Letchworth Ambulance Station, - Credit: Archant

Whether it’s a multi-vehicle smash on the A1(M) or a serious trip or fall, when you dial 999 you always hope there will an ambulance crew on hand to get to you or a loved one quickly.

Student paramedics Katy Davies and Chris Parkinson at Letchworth Ambulance Station,

Student paramedics Katy Davies and Chris Parkinson at Letchworth Ambulance Station, - Credit: Archant

And as the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust launches an appeal to get 400 more students though the doors and out onto the roads, the Comet spoke to two training paramedics about what life is like in the driving seat as the sirens sound and the flashing blue lights signal that help is on the way.

Chris Parkinson and Katy Davies are both based at Letchworth’s ambulance station on the Letchworth Gate ‘longabout’ after joining up last year.

Their training is intense and lasts for about a year.

They both completed an eight-week theory course and driving test at the start of their training period last September before being thrown in the deep end and helping to cover one of the busiest Christmases the ambulance trust has ever seen.


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The trust’s Darren Meads said: “It was certainly a baptism of fire, but we find that paid on the job training is the best way of doing things.”

This year the service needs 400 student paramedics across the eastern region, which covers Herts, and Beds as well as Cambs, Essex and Norfolk – and is looking to find 80 of them from Hertfordshire.

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The term student is slightly misleading – as anyone, of any age, who is fit and healthy can apply to join.

Chris, 30, said: “We are always with a qualified paramedic. It was quite daunting at first but it is the best way to learn.

“When you turn up to the scene of an accident there are so many things you have to do, it’s a bit like a check list, you just go into autopilot.”

Paramedics work three or four shifts a week which are each 12 hours long, but Chris, who has small children, says the shift patterns balance relatively well with family life.

Katy, 42, said: “One of the nicest things is getting to talk to so many people, all the different conversations you can have, especially with the elderly who like to tell you their life stories.”

Both decided to become paramedics because they see it as a rewarding job where they get to help people and give something back.

Most of their time is spent visiting older people during the day, and responding to calls about falls or breathing problems rather than serious accidents.

“You do get some strange ones, though,” said Katy, who lives in Hinxworth. “Once a call came through on the log that someone had been hit by a house.

“We were like: What? But it turned out to be kicked by a horse and it had just been logged wrong.”

If you’re interested in knowing more about a career with the trust, visit www.eastamb.nhs.uk.

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