'No two shifts are the same' - a day in the life of a Paramedic Science graduate

Laurence Ford graduated from the Paramedic Science course at Swansea University's the College of Human and Health Sciences in 2015, he now works for the Welsh Ambulance Service from Port Talbot ambulance station, shuttling patients between Swansea's Morriston Hospital and the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.

Laurence, who is from Swansea, said a calm demeanour was important in his job. The 39-year-old was an ambulance technician for five years and, before that, did non-emergency ambulance transfers. He registered as a paramedic in April last year and now works 12-hour shifts - two days on and two nights on followed by five days off.

"Every shift is busy," he said. "You get cardiac arrests to road traffic collisions to people generally being unwell. No two shifts are the same - that's what I enjoy about the job. You see people in distress - at their lowest point. It's good helping them and doing something that improves their condition for the next couple of hours, especially in trauma situations.

"You get people who are confused, have dementia - or someone has been found on the street. You're like an investigator, you can't always know everything. You do get the odd drunk who is abusive. You just have to be wary of situations. And you get regular callers who ring the ambulance service five or 10 times per day."

He added: "With a road traffic collision, you expect the worst and anything else is a bonus."

Paramedics regularly work with ambulance technicians and take the lead in, for example, cardiac arrests, administering drugs like adrenaline and managing the patient's airways with intubation.

"As a paramedic you learn more about human biology, what happens at a cellular level, and why drugs interact in a certain way," said Laurence. "When I go into (hospital) accident and emergency I am constantly amazed by the knowledge of the doctors.

 Laurence completed his paramedic science course while working full-time. It was not always easy, he said, to manage the work-study-life balance.

"You have to be a bit selfish, but it's done and dusted now and I'm reaping the rewards," he said.

He said his workload has increased significantly in his time with the ambulance service, but that his employers had been very accommodating with his Swansea University course.