Jack is the Operations Manager for Community First Responders at South Central Ambulance Service. He also holds a volunteer role as part of the SCAS BASICs team, enhanced pre-hospital clinicians who volunteer across the Hampshire area. His staff role involves managing, training and recruiting volunteer Community First Responders, funded by South Central Ambulance Charity, as well as managing their welfare.
I’ve always wanted to be a paramedic ever since I was a small child. I started immediately after leaving school and haven’t left since. I’ve now spent 20 years in the Ambulance Service and have seen a lot of change and a huge culture shift during that time.
Being a paramedic is harder than it’s ever been before. Since the Covid pandemic, we haven’t gone back to normal – there is still huge demand on our services and we are noticing that patients are getting sicker as they have waited for a longer time to call 999. Sometimes, when I start a shift, I am going out to patients who called in over 8 hours earlier, which used to be unheard of.
External factors such as the cost-of-living crisis also aren’t helping. Staff are leaving the Ambulance Service as they need to take jobs with more pay, less stress and more stable hours to support their families. This is leading to my colleagues doing more work with fewer staff.
I have seen first-hand how the wellbeing initiatives make a huge difference to staff. We see some really awful situations as paramedics, so it is incredibly important to manage your mental health. When I first started, you were expected to manage your own emotions and there was no support, but now it is being taken far more seriously which is fantastic. Wellbeing zones, gardens, access to physios (as being a paramedic is a really physical job) really help improve staff morale. I feel that having access to these in various Ambulance Stations is really invaluable.
My paramedic colleagues just want small, simple things to make their working life more pleasant, such as the ability to have a hot or cold drink, somewhere to heat their food and spaces to relax on breaks. It’s just the basics, but not all paramedics have access to these amenities. It makes life as a paramedic feel much harder. When staff are well looked after, patients benefit too.