Posted by: medicblog999 | May 8, 2009

Changing the way I work

partnersSince I started in the service in 2000, if have had the opportunity to work with many, many different partners.  Some, I have worked with for prolonged periods of time, some only occasionally, but I have learned from all of them and they have changed the type of paramedic that I have become. 

Experience changes a paramedics outlook on the job. If a new paramedic is exposed to a good role model early on, then you can be pretty sure that they will turn out to be a competant, safe, caring professional. However, the opposite is also true. In every profession there are good and bad examples of a role. I firmly believe that you can learn just as much from working with someone who really raises your hackles and makes you think “I would never do it like that!”, as someone who you look up to and strive to be like, or even be better than.

I have a strange relationship with those I work with. I have a reputation of being a stickler for the book (or rather the guidelines – guidelines being the operative word though, they are they to guide our decisions, not make them for us and set them in stone), being quite strict in my outlook on how the job should be done and ensuring that all patients get the best standard of care possible from the North East Ambulance Service.

This has brought me into conflict with some staff, more so since I was made a Team Leader in 2005, but ultimately, its only because I care about what we do so much. 

The strange thing though, is that the same staff I sometimes come into conflict with also tell others that if they or one of their family were poorly, they would want me to come and tend to them. As any paramedic knows, that is probably the greatest compliment one paramedic can give to another. It means even more when it comes from paramedics who you yourself respect and look up to.

So why am I blithering on, making myself sound good. I’m not trying to be a big head or say “look at how good I am”. As I have mentioned before, I was a nurse before joining the service and I still hold alot of nursing values core to my outlook in pre-hospital care, but equally a good deal of the credit for the type of paramedic I am now, goes back to those I have worked with through the early, formative stages to my ambulance career. 

I thought I would give some examples of moments with my various partners, that I still remember to this day and that changed me for the better.


Keith was a paramedic who taught me the value of time. Not in the emergent situation, but rather in the times where a patient is stable. It is just as important sometimes to say “take your time love, there’s no hurry, you get yourself sorted”, as it is to get moving on the time critical jobs. It was one simple job where we were picking up a diabetic patient for a routine transfer into hospital where his wife was worried that he hadn’t had time for any breakfast. Keith simply said “Its okay, why don’t you make him a quick piece of toast that he can take with him”. It was a really small thing, almost insignificant, but it made a great deal of difference to the patient and his wife.


Gary taught me the right way to drive and the importance of being sensible over stupid when driving on blue lights. Simple words of wisdom such as “fast on the straights, slow on the bends” have stayed with me and are repeated by me to all new staff. As a new technician, driving under emergency conditions can be such a buzz, but that can also make you reckless. Gary reminded me about the importance of “getting there in one piece rather than not at all”


Mickey showed me the value of protecting and sticking up for your partner. When accusations were made about my actions by another more experienced member of staff a number of years ago, Mickey made a stand for me in front of a whole station of staff. Mickey was and still is very respected by many staff, and to have someone like that turn red with anger whilst speaking on behalf of me (the underdog), is something that I will always remember.


John is the paramedic who has been a constant in my career so far. We have worked on the same station for 8 years, and even though he is nearing retirement, he is my confidante. John has been there and done it, not just on the road, but he has held most senior ambulance management positions over the years. As I have tried to develop as a team leader, he has always been there for me, offering me advice and sometimes just reminding me that sometimes the hard decisions are the right ones to make. I look up to John and value the experience that he has to offer. We have been known to have some pretty loud “discussions” about service change which im sure most who hear them think we are going to blow, but we always seem to finish off with a bit of a laugh and sometimes an agreement to disagree.


Dom taught me the value of laughter at times of real sadness. However Dom has already had his own post all to himself. Click here to read that one. RIP Dom!

Mrs Medic999

I cant write down influential partners in my life without including the good lady wife. We met on the job (that sounds wrong, but you know what I mean), actually we met walking down a train track from opposite ends looking for part of a head and a leg from a patient who had jumped out in front of a train. Our eyes met over part of the cerebellum and we knew then………(feel free to gag now!) But in all seriousness, Mrs Medic999 has always been the voice in the back of my head which keeps me on my toes and keeps me making hopefully, the right decisions. It has been a struggle adapting to the role of a Team Leader. Its not easy being promoted on the station that you work on and suddenly being the manager of staff who have far more on the road experience than you. I nearly always talk things through with her (unless they are confidential, and that REALLY bugs her!) and she nearly always gives me advice which is far better than what I was going to do. Behind every good man is a better woman – In my case this is very very true, but…shhhhhh, don’t tell her I said that!

There have also been so many more that I have learned from in ways which aren’t so positive. You will know the ones too, the type of staff that say:

“Can you walk!” to the acute short of breath patient

“The vehicles fine, you don’t need to check it!”

“I don’t need to know that, its not in the protocol”

“I’m the attendant, Ill decide what to do”

“I hate this job”

etc, etc

The value of working in a service with various partners, is that you can grow with the more staff you work with. Everyone has something to give, especially new staff coming into the service who are quite possibly alot more up to date than most give them credit for. What they lack in practical experience, they can make up for with fresh eyes on old situations.

You never, ever stop learning in this job and even though its a comfort to work with those you know well, its also very easy to get stuck in a rut and start doing things because “that’s the way we have always done it”. It is our responsibility to make sure that doesnt happen. Healthcare changes so quickly that before you get used to one new treatment, another one has come along that is better. Our patients deserve the best that we can give.



  1. I agree wholeheartedly, but I think you’re brave posting this in public 🙂

  2. Now that’s what I call professional development… Not what we have rammed down our throats, but what we learn from our colleagues, mentors, students and even our patients… great post!

  3. Hey great blog. I feel the same way so strongly and I find myself lookin like the “By The Book Guy” but that is usually involving situations that by the book is the more beneficial option for the pt. Its good to see there are some of us out here that feel that way.

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