Jake Plumley graduated in 2015 with a first class honours in Computer Science. Since then Jake has succeeded highly in his role within the Welsh Ambulance service where he has been able to use the skills gained throughout his degree to create a mobile app being used across England and Wales that is helping to save lives.

Jake PlumleyTell us about your time at Swansea University

I began my degree in Computer Science in 2012. I was drawn to the University for its reputation in computer science and also the world class swimming facilities. I joined the University as a national competitive swimmer for the University’s performance squad. I must say, it was often difficult to juggle the commitments of training and studying with the fantastic nightlife Swansea has to offer, particularly during fresher’s week! When I wasn’t studying or swimming I took up surfing with the beach just on my doorstep. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Swansea, so much that my younger brother followed in my footsteps and joined the University in 2013. I graduated with a first class honours and full time employment in the profession I wished to pursue. 

Why did you choose to study Computer Science?

From a very young age I always held a curiosity in new technology: a fascination which has continued into my adult life. I developed a keen interest for programming and creating solutions to problems particularly when studying A-level Information Technology and the course offered by the University explored these various aspects; moreover the computer science sector offers attractive job opportunities with fantastic career progression.

How did you end up working for the Welsh Ambulance Service?

In the final year of my degree, I chose to undertake an industry linked project for my dissertation. My project was with the Welsh Ambulance Service and the task was to re-create a paper based pre-hospital communication guide generated in collaboration with the London Ambulance Service as a mobile application to be used throughout England and Wales. The guide was to be used to assist patients that had difficulty communicating. I presented the enhanced version of the guide to the informatics team of the Welsh Ambulance service who loved what they saw. Throughout my final year I continuously liaised with the informatics department at the Welsh Ambulance Service, and before the official handover of the application I was invited to apply for a graduate position. I was successful at interview and was offered the position to begin after graduation. I have now worked for the informatics department for over 2 years. 

Tell us about the Pre-Hospital Communications Application?

I developed the core of the application during my final year in Swansea University and finalised the application’s development whilst in employment with the Welsh Ambulance Service, before launching the app in September 2016. The Welsh Ambulance Service aimed to replicate and enhance the functionality of the original guide to assist a wider variety of patients. We aimed to achieve this by implementing audio clips throughout the guide to assist any partially sighted users of the application. By allowing it to be freely downloaded from multiple app stores this enabled the communication tool to be accessed by the general public. Further functionality of the application is that the user is able to store medical details so that they can quickly show the paramedic or other medical professionals any medical conditions and medication that they are on.

The Pre-Hospital Communication Application uses pictures, words and audio clips to communicate with people who have a range of different needs, specifically for those whose illness or injury affects their communication; is deaf or hard of hearing; for which English is not their first language or those with learning disabilities. If the patient is required to go to hospital the paramedic can use the app to inform the patient that they need further treatment in hospital and can show the patient what they need to take with them. By using the application the patient is able to understand what is happening during every step of the care process therefore reducing the patients stress and improving overall patient experience.

How did your degree help you get where you are today?

My degree not only taught me the basic skills required within the computer science industry; it also allowed me to liaise with an external company which gave me the opportunity to present my skills to an organisation resulting in full time employment on graduation.

What are your future plans – any more apps?

Since the release of the Pre-Hospital communication application, the health informatics team and I have redesigned the NHS Direct Wales website and produced and maintained a number of internal web applications. As the use of mobile devices increases, there will definitely be many more apps to come from myself and the health informatics department within the Welsh Ambulance Service.

What do you miss most about Swansea University?

Luckily for me, I have stayed in Swansea and live not far from the University so I still have access to the exceptional coastline and fantastic nightlife. I am still able to enjoy what the University has to offer and now participate as an alumnus hoping to help other students who are interested in computer science and how it can be used to help others and potentially save lives.