It is early in the morning, the break of dawn. A small army of heavily armed specialist police officers congregate behind a wall, around the corner of a house where a wanted suspect with a violent history is suspected. Police intelligence states he may very likely be armed. Last tactical plans are run through again, all members take their positions: Snipers are in place on the rooftop, a group of officers provide firearm cover behind trees in the front yard. The crashing of the battering ram against the front door pierces the silence, breaking it down on second impact.
The armed officers storm the building, guns drawn, making their presence very clear:
ARMED POLICE CARS! WE ARE ARMED POLICE CARS! SHOW YOURSELF! HANDS ABOVE YOUR HEAD!
Unfortunately, the suspect sustained a fatal gun shot wound from the police after laughing so hard he could not comply with the above shouted instructions.
– ~ –
Similar scenario, but instead of a violent criminal, inside the house is someone with a medical emergency who requested the attendance of health care professionals. Instead of a battering ram, a gloved finger gently pushes the doorbell…*ding dong*. Nothing can be heard from inside.
Ambulance! Hello!? Can you hear us? Ambulance! Hello!
No laughter this time.
Now, having been in the UK and getting to know the system more, some difficulties arise. Not only is it very common for people within our profession to refer to themselves as “ambulance person” doing “ambulance work” – local legalities leave them little else to say it seems. The title “Paramedic” is protected in the UK – if you are not HCPC registered, yet still call yourself a paramedic, you are breaking the law. Plain and simple, great for the public, great for the profession (our Australian colleagues look over here with envious eyes), but it leaves us lingering with the question: “What do we call those who work alongside paramedics, but aren’t paramedics?”
There is only one level of Paramedic registration. A Paramedic here has a multitude of advanced skills and to become one nowadays, it is mandatory to have a degree in Paramedical Science. UK Ambulance services aren’t going to solely employ paramedics, they are teamed up with either (Emergency Medical) Technicians (a dying breed of BLS trained colleagues) or colleagues with very basic medical training (approx. one month), and a driving licence that are called either Emergency Care Support Workers (ECSWs, Emergency Care Assistants (ECAs), Accident and Emergency Support or something in between. Their (unregulated) job is not officially recognised as that of a clinicians.
From personal experience, the vast majority of them a great people and a real asset to work with, generally eager to learn more with the prospect of becoming a paramedic in the future – but their meagre (official) training keeps them locked in a low rank that we cannot call a paramedic.
So – what to do?