Joining forces to get more paramedics on the road

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) has joined forces with 16 Medical Regiment to boost the number of frontline staff available to provide life-saving care to patients in Essex.

The partnership will see paramedics and combat medical technicians deployed to work on ambulances alongside staff from EEAST, in turn helping increase capacity during the coronavirus pandemic while also giving the military medics a wider clinical experience.

All medics within the military must complete clinical placements with the NHS to maintain their qualifications, with 16 Med Regt personnel working at hospitals across Essex and Suffolk.

Last week, 15 personnel completed training to prepare them to work on ambulances, which covered vehicle and equipment familiarisation, advanced life support and dementia care. They are expected to take to the roads alongside EEAST staff this week.

The course was written and taught by Aaron Hill, a Senior Paramedic and Education and Training Officer with EEAST, and delivered at Colchester’s Merville Barracks.

Aaron said: “As an army reservist, I am extremely proud to design and deliver a bespoke course for our military counterparts. The Trust and wider NHS are understandably under extreme pressure at this time, and the clinical skill and experience provided by 16 Medical Regiment is invaluable to our service delivery.

“This is the first time a course of this nature has been delivered in the UK, and marks a start to a new working relationship between the NHS and military. The professionalism and clinical leadership demonstrated by all medics throughout the course has been excellent and I am confident this cohort will make a real difference, especially over the next few weeks when the NHS will face increasing pressure.’’

Mark Wibberley, a Recruitment Specialist with EEAST, said: “We are delighted to be joining forces with our military colleagues to increase the number of frontline staff available to help patients across Essex.

“We have worked hard to get this partnership up and running and look forward to continuing it long into the future. We will now explore whether we can replicate the scheme across the rest of our patch so that we can help our army colleagues to make the best possible use of their clinical skills while increasing the life-saving support we are able to provide to our patients.”

Similar relationships between NHS trusts and military medics are in place across the country, and are the foundations on which the military’s ability to support the NHS, such as tackling the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, are built.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Sean Harpur, from 16 Medical Regiment, said: “We are really pleased that this important partnership has now got off the ground and look forward to it benefiting both EEAST, our medics and the public.

“Our staff are hugely experienced in providing first class trauma care through their work on deployments, but are not so familiar with looking after elderly patients and children. Spending time with EEAST’s crews will give them the opportunity to widen their scope of practice and further develop their other medical skills.

“We hope the partnership will give staff the opportunity to learn from and support each other, particularly as the country tackles the challenge of coronavirus, and will continue long into the future.”