Florian Breitenbach

Rettungsdienst und mehr

Museum: Anaesthesia Heritage Centre, London

Semester is over. It’s been a particularly hard slog. What better way to sit back on the couch with some chips and an episode of Top Gear? That was last night. Can’t stay indoors all day, especially when its 20 degrees (Celsius, for everyone in the US) and a beautifully sunny day in London! So I continued on my “Museum Mission”, aiming to visit all of London’s Museums of Health & Medicine.

Today, I visited the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) – more specifically, the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre. A small museum, nonetheless with some interesting exhibitions and very friendly and helpful staff.

As George Santayana wrote over a hundred years ago:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

In other words: learn from the past. And we may as well learn from other peoples pasts while we’re at it. Apart from all the early forms of pain management (and their abuse), airway management and tools, one single thing struck me on this visit: Anaesthesia was initially poorly regarded amongst the medical profession for the first decades since its modern inception in the 1840s. Until 1935, when the Diploma of Anaesthetics was introduced, there was not even a formal way of qualifying as an Anaesthesiologist; indeed, many people who stated they were specialists in the field were ‘optimistic novices’, as Henry Featherstone, the founder of the AAGBI (in 1932) was quoted.

How do you regard the field of Anaesthetics today? Quite a complex and respectable part of medicine, I would hazard a guess.

If modern anaesthesia only began in the 1840s, that makes the entire (sub)profession approximately 170 years old. In the 1930s, when training became formalised and the AAGBI was founded to support its cause and standing, the profession had been around for around 90 years.

Let’s switch over to what this blog is all about: The wonderful world of Paramedicine. Although the concept of out of hospital care dates back to Dominique Jean Larrey in the Napoleonic Wars (around the 19th century), the first modern on road paramedics were trained in the early 1970s. That makes our profession less than 50 years old. And boy, don’t we have similar issues around the world: poorly regarded amongst other health professionals (and governments), and still some ‘optimistic novices’, amongst the unregulated profession. Sure, this was a generalisation, but parts of it are true in very many services – dig deep enough and I’m sure you will find evidence of it near you.

“So what?” I hear you say, “Time will sort it out!”. Well, time and a fair bit of effort – remember to support your profession, and the best way of doing that is by joining your professional body.

I’ll leave you with my favourite display item, a resuscitator from the 1960s. See if you can identify similarities and differences to our commonly used Bag Valve Mask from today!



Instructions for Use.

  1. Lay the patient on his back.
  2. With a finger covered with a handkerchief clear his mouth and throat of mucus and any foreign matter
  3. Kneel or stand behind his head, place the face mask on his face with the lower rim under his chin so that his jaw is lifted up. This is important.
  4. Work the bellows steadily at about 16 strokes a minute. The thrust of the bellows should be upwards on his face so that his jaw is kept up.
  5. Watch the patient’s chest. It should rise with each down stroke of the bellows and fall during each up stroke.
  6. After about every 50 strokes of the bellows, clear the patients mouth and throat of mucus with a finger covered in a handkerchief.
  7. Continue resuscitation until the patient breathes naturally, or for at least 2 hours.

Hero Revisited

Kelvin Crocker (@yellowspanner) emailed me in response to my recent post “I am not a Hero“. With permission, I quote:

Just to begin by saying that I don’t consider myself a hero in any way. My father was a firefighter and whenever the hero tag was bandied about he always said he was just an ordinary guy doing his job. I also believe that. But what about public perception? We drop in and out of people’s lives in extremis. We just get on with things when others would run away. Does this make us heroes? Maybe we are just the tip of the spear and all that back us up, the call takers, the trainers the vehicle mechanics are just as important and heroic in their own ways. But we get seen by the public and to be called a hero is something we should take and pay it back to those that support us on the front line. My kids are proud of what I do and also just as proud of their Mum – a nurse. Sometimes I think the word hero is misused – should we take the good meaning and ditch the bad?

Kelvin has a point, and a very good one too. I have a part of me that wholeheartedly agrees with him. We might not see ourselves as heroes, but if others would like to apply that label to us, we could and should use this positive description for the benefit of our profession.

I am not a Hero. I don’t see myself as a Hero.

But if you (genuinely) call me a hero – I will humbly accept the honour with gratitude, and share it with the profession.

Registration Survey

For everyone in Australia, or planning to come to Australia: National Paramedic Registration is up and coming – have your input!

The survey:

The petition:

More information: for more information, visit the Paramedics Australasia website:

Police Officers are…

After my recent search discovering that we are hot, underpaid heroes – I thought we should look how our friends from the Police fare:

Bit harsh in my opinion. I would like to think that the general public see them as hot, underpaid heroes too.

Goes to show how lucky we are, the trust given towards paramedics, and the (mostly) welcome attitude we are greeted with when we arrive.

Let’s keep it that way.

Target 3000 – Professional Registration for Australian Paramedics


The arrow hits the target. But how accurate is the archer? How do we know his skills are up to date? Does he know what he is doing? Is he an archer at all?

And what am I on about?

Paramedic Registration developments are entering a hot phase in Australia – consultation exercises will be beginning soon.

Does this affect me?

As a Paramedic in Australia – YES! The title ‘Paramedic’ is not protected, anyone can call themselved a paramedic. Heck, I even saw an ad for a “Paramedic Skin Care Specialist” in the paper last year!

As a resident in Australia – YES! Registration will help standardise and raise the level of care brought to you should you ever require a paramedic.

Anyone else – YES! Join and help the profession forward. You can tell us about your own registration experiences, knowledge, pitfalls etc; we want the best system in place here in the land of Down Under.

And what should I do?

  • Contact Paramedics Australasia’s policy advisor Ray Bange at to be kept up to date with all things registration
  • Visit the PA website and read the registration documents
  • On Twitter, follow #ParamedicReg
  • Participate in all future submissions when they are released shortly
  • Talk to other paramedics in your workplace and be prepared for the registration debate!

“One small step for a paramedic, one giant leap for the profession”


professional industrials or industrious professionals?

In a recent EMS Garage episode (150 – International Paramedic etc), Chris Montera (@GeekyMedic) got upset with our line of work and stated: “Why is our industry like this?”

Because you called it an industry. Because, largely, we are seen as an industry. We act like an industry.

From the ‘New Oxford American English’:

in dus try |ˈindəstrē|

noun ( pl. industries )

  1. economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods in factories: the competitiveness of American industry.
    • [ with adj. or noun modifier ] a particular form or branch of economic or commercial activity: the car industry | the tourist industry.
    • [ with adj. or noun modifier ] informal an activity or domain in which a great deal of time or effort is expended: the Shakespeare industry.
  2. hard work: the kitchen became a hive of industry .


pro fes sion |prəˈfeSHən|


  1. a paid occupation, esp. one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification: his chosen profession of teaching | a lawyer by profession .•[ treated as sing. or pl. ] a body of people engaged in a particular profession: the profession is divided on the issue.
  2. an open but often false declaration or claim: a profession of allegiance.
  •  a declaration of belief in a religion.
  • the declaration or vows made on entering a religious order.
  • the ceremony or fact of being professed in a religious order.


Choose your place. I know I’ve chosen mine.

Reminder: You’re a Paramedic

Tonight, August 9, 2011, is census night throughout Australia.

Remember to put your profession down as “Paramedic”.

More information at Paramedics Australasia

Make your profession count.