Contemplating life.

A Decade – part five

Needless to say, I got accepted.


Once the lazy, uninterested kid at school, this was different. I dived in to the study. I would be in the library until they kicked me out for closing times. I would relisten to whole podcast lectures, write them out, just to understand and learn the material. I would organise group learning sessions, because I best learn in a group (pure selfish tactic really, but it’s a great social and educational tool too!). I dedicated most of my life that year to my first year of study. And it paid off, achieving highest marks, but more importantly, I knew that I had found something what I want to do, my vocation, my calling.

What followed from there on…well, I don’t really need to write it all down again – because that is when I started this blog.

More than five years have passed since I started as a Student Paramedic, and it is coming up to two years since I graduated as a Paramedic. Nearly a year ago now I gained my UK Paramedic Registration after making the decision to move to London, England. And ten years since I first set foot in an ambulance, which set off a series of events, more than I had ever anticipated.

A big “Thank You!” to everyone who has been, is, and will be on my journey!


A Decade – part three

Seventeen years was enough. I wanted to experience living in Australia as an adult, not just visiting it. So I packed my bags and moved.

A massive leaving party, and a short holiday later, I arrived in Sydney with two suitcases, two guitars, and a bike. May as well do it properly and start from scratch!

Ambulance Service? A thing of the past. As much as I enjoyed it, being a paramedic is not a job for life, working in IT gives you more career opportunities, pays better, and is far more mobile. To be filed under “past experiences and enjoyments”.

I enjoyed the change in scenery. But I also remember spotting my first ambulance even on the taxi ride from the airport to the friends house I was staying at for the first few weeks. I just like the design, I thought. Just to look.

Work was good. I was getting paid, was getting experience, I had some pretty good colleagues (including the woman that used to sit opposite me who now sleeps next to me). It was on a holiday over to the west side of the country to visit my mum that I was able to organise an observer shift with the ambulance service – I was curious how the Australian system worked, and wanted to compare it to the German system I had experienced over the past three years.

I got dropped off at the ambulance station. The day crew weren’t back yet, and the night crew (I was going to follow them through half the night) hadn’t come in yet, so I waited for a few minutes until my aunt’s colleague’s flatmate (yes, you red correctly) turned up, who I had organised a shift with. In his final year as a paramedic student, he was happy to take me out and who me the Aussie way.

A brief tour or the van, checking the drugs and equipment, I didn’t have much time to sit down until the first job came in. I can’t remember what it was, but what I do remember is that feeling of sitting in an ambulance again. This one was considerably smaller, made woo woo noise instead of neenaw, and had the addition of red and white flashing lights over the european blue I was used to – but each ambulance I have sat in makes a similar noise; the rattle of equipment in the draws, the crackling of the radio, the strain of the engine when the accelerator is mashed to the floor. In addition, all the other feedback was right too, the vehicle been thrown around corners at high speeds, the clinical white interior, the lights bouncing of the surroundings at night time. It all fit perfectly, a feeling and experience that I hadn’t had in a while. Quite nice, and good to know that it doesn’t differ much from Germany. Still hope that the university get back to me to tell me if I’ve been accepted for my bachelor in computer science, I’d like to progress my career in IT.

We drop our patient off at the hospital, and that is where I notice the biggest difference: it is all one service in the city. You see, in Frankfurt, the Fire Brigade had central oversight and control over EMS, and manned some ambulances. Additionally, the Samaritans, the Red Cross, St Johns and the Maltese Cross all ran ambulances in the city, under governance of the Fire Brigade. Five organisations, five employers – and people from different organisations didn’t mingle, it seems. But here, here in Australia, everybody knew their colleagues, they all wore the same uniform! I was introduced as the guy from Germany who wanted an insight in to the Aussie system, I was made very welcome by everyone else. The shift progressed, and I was able to have a good chat with the crew. Once again, we cleared from hospital, and were told that there were reports of a car crash coming in – one ambulance had already been dispatched, but in case backup was needed, we should head in that general direction. And sure enough, a few minutes later we were called to proceed under priority conditions to the scene.

And what a scene it was: The police had blocked the road, the fire brigade were cutting the roof off one car, whilst the ambulance crew on scene had split and were dealing with what was to become our patient, and another one who was in (what I now know as) traumatic cardiac arrest. Both young, having fun, but one of them had a bit too much of a lead foot for their guardian angel to keep up – even the paramedics weren’t going to change that. I was told to stay close to the ambulance, and was happy to do so – I was happy to take a back step on this chaotic scene, try and make sense of it all, get a general overview. A manager turned up, one that I had met earlier at hospital, who reminded me that if I didn’t want to see what was happening, I could sit in the back of the ambulance and shut the door; he made sure I was OK with the whole situation. I was.

After transporting the patient to hospital (I assisted, upon their request, by keeping the attendant up to date on the patients vital signs…OK I may have gone slightly overboard with the constantly changing heart rate until I was gently told to shut up 🙂 Iwas dropped off at a taxi rank. The crew took off for the rest of their shift, and I returned back to my mums place, deep in contemplation of my newly gained experiences of the life of a Paramedic in Australia…



A chilly, bright and clear night. A cuban bar, Mojitos, fireworks.

Reminiscing…past, present and future.

What was initially going to be a catch up after work turned in to a fair bit more. Having a drink with Lysa Walder always takes you places (previous adventure here). Last night we were joined by Thaddeus Setla, Tom Bouthillet and crew, during their visit from the States here in London to film their Code STEMI project.

Drinks, ideas, opinions, information flowed freely. I got ‘caught’ in between Ted and Lysa (who hadn’t met before), which was quite an experience, with some flashback for me: On my left an American paramedic-turned-filmmaker, with whom I had done a shift with last year and had a great time. On my right an English paramedic and author, with whom I had done a shift with three years ago. and me, an (ex) Aussie Paramedic, in the middle. US-OZ-UK.

It is always interesting to see the impression that places leave with visitors…in this case: what is stereotypical British? I’ll leave you with Tom’s thoughts of a typical 999 call between an Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) and a Proper British Gentleman (PBG – spoken in a very posh accent):

EMD: “999, what’s your emergency?”


PBG: “Good afternoon. We seem to have this slight issue. You know this whole breathing thing that we all generally do? Well, she’s not really doing it much. Not at all really.”


EMD: “OK sir, you’ll need to check her pulse, and if no pulse is there, commence CPR. Open her airway by tilting the head back, and start by giving two breaths via mouth to mouth…”


PBG: “Her mouth? (with a hint of disgust). Sounds rather troublesome.”

Clearly he’s been watching too much Monty Python. I’ll leave you with fireworks instead!

(thanks to Lysa for taking the photo!)

An interesting report, part 2

2006. I had just moved to Australia (again), working in IT, leaving my volunteering role behind. It was, after all, “just a hobby”, a thing on the side. And now, Down Under, there would be heaps of new things to do and discover!

Not so fast, tiger. SBS was broadcasting a documentation on the Ambulance Service of New South Wales. I was only able to watch one static filled episode (SBS has notoriously rubbish reception), but it had piqued my interest: I wanted to know more about Paramedics in Australia! I had to have the DVD set.

Luckily, Ambulance NSW have posted them online for everyone. With cameras everywhere, this really gets you in the thick of the action. Enough text, jump right in, and enjoy the Australian way:







An interesting report, part 1

There are so many great reports out there, shared on the world wide web. Inspired by Alltag im Rettungsdienst, and in order to share some of the interesting ones, I have decided to post them as I come across them.

This first one comes from Queensland, Australia. The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) have established a Trauma Response Team, a rapid response unit consisting of a Intensive Care Paramedic and a doctor (who happens to be the medical director for the QAS).