Holiday healthcare heroes: 'I have attended some horrendous jobs - but I've also seen some truly amazing things'

Ben Law among the first of the 400 student paramedics training at Norfolk ambulance HQ. Photo: Melvyn Sibson

Ben Law among the first of the 400 student paramedics training at Norfolk ambulance HQ. Photo: Melvyn Sibson

Throughout advent, we’re highlighting those who work hard throughout the year - and at Christmas - to keep Norfolk and Waveney’s health service ticking over.

This countdown of those we count on will focus on a different person or individual every day up until Christmas, celebrating our healthcare heroes.

Ben Law, paramedic with East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST)

Ben, based in Waveney, was part of the first cohort to be recruited as a student paramedic by EEAST in 2014.

He said: “Before joining I thought you would work with the same crew mate and attend a few more trauma/medical emergency jobs.

“I knew that the ambulance service attended a lot of elderly patients, but didn’t realise how many primary care or non-emergency jobs we go to. That said, becoming a paramedic is a lifelong dream job, and now I’m qualified, I love it.

“It’s definitely the job for me.”

EEAST launched the new paramedic degree in conjunction with the University of East Anglia to address the shortfall in recruitment and ensure that the ambulance service can continue to meet the needs of patients across the region.

This year, the first group of students - including Ben - graduated from the course.

Ben said: “Being on the first cohort, the training via EEAST was quite sporadic in places as it was a brand new course and pathway.

“However, the tutors we had in our first year helped us achieve our goal. I was lucky enough to work in a great area operationally and learnt so much from some great members of staff in Waveney.

“Every day is a learning day which has helped me develop to the paramedic I am now.

“The UEA experience really helped with my development and confidence. It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but it’s meant to be hard as at the end of the day, people rely on us to deliver excellent care. Again, it was sporadic in places being the first DipHe group, but with hard work and determination, I made it.

“The best part of the uni journey was getting to spend lots of time on the road with my mentor, who was fantastic. Chris Calver is an experienced senior paramedic who definitely played a massive role in my success and I will always remain truly grateful for his help, support and guidance.”

He added: “Since joining the ambulance service I have attended some horrendous jobs and seen things some people will never see, but I have also seen some truly amazing things from getting a ROSC (restarting the heart) on a cardiac arrest patient, delivering a baby and having a cup of tea with an elderly gentleman whilst listening to his war stories.

“I came to realise quickly that our job isn’t just about the interventions we can perform, but how just simply listening and talking to someone is where a large part of our workload lies.

“For me this is great as I love a good natter. But equally, sometimes that is all that is needed and can make such a difference in someone’s life.

“My biggest challenge since joining is learning all you need to know to be an effective paramedic. There is so much to learn and you learn every day, but I thought it would just be accidents and emergencies rather than the amount of primary care jobs we go to. Because of this I self study new conditions or presentations when I come across them.

“Also trying to fit in family time whilst studying has been extremely hard. I have a young family who want to spend time with me and I with them, but you have to discipline yourself in the university year and that means sacrificing family time, but it’s worth it when you pass.”

For anyone considering becoming a paramedic, Ben said: “It’s going to be hard, but it’s meant to be hard. There are lots of ups and downs, lots of good days and bad days but remember, teamwork makes the dream work.

“And if you want it bad enough, you’ll become a paramedic.”

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