Day in the Life…Harrie Ashman, Paramedic and Access Courses Online Support Tutor

Day in the Life…Harrie Ashman, Paramedic and Access Courses Online Support Tutor

Where the hell do I start? 


At 18 years old I was thinking; I love science, and I love people, not smart enough to be a doctor, not pretty enough to be a nurse…. Get me in an ambulance! 


All jokes aside I didn’t really know what I wanted but the job appealed to me, the university course was funded so I packed my bags. I took my A*, A and B to Surrey university and threw myself into the unknown. Placements were 50/50 alongside academic study. In a world where you sink or swim I paddled on through the steepest learning curve I’d faced so far. And to tell you the truth I loved the occasional adrenaline, the cognitive challenge, the opportunity to care and nurture. So here I am now 9 years in the ambulance service, 3 years as an undergraduate student, 6 years a qualified paramedic and a colourful career scooping the elderly off the floor, lecturing, post grad studies, a research role, experience in clinical audit, international conferences and a specialism in burn care. 


How often we walk in and out of people's lives, in tragedy, joy, pain, frustration. We wipe tears, bums and the brows of our sweating colleagues. It’s a whirlwind and one that we rarely reflect on. In an ever pressured NHS time to learn and grow is limited. I’m writing this blog largely for my own benefit, a space to rant if you like.   


TODAY 20:20 - location….. ambulance garage  


- We have just been for a vape, anticipating and hoping for a timely finish. We head home to our own lives at 20:30 after a 10 hour shift. This is a little insight of what it consisted of 

- I arrive at the ambulance station 10am after a gym session. My Id card has snapped so someone has to let me into the ambulance station (I swear I’ll deal with that later). I have a shower, grab a coffee and find my crew mate. As usual I’ve not worked with her before, we have some get-to-know-you chat and check the vehicle signing on with no clue what the day will hold. 

- I pop upstairs to see my TL (team leader). He’s a geezer and a bit of a legend. I ask for his support to write my first coroner's statement for a fatal RTC I attended a few weeks ago. I spent two hours detailing what we did in an attempt to save this man’s life after crashing his car on a motorway. That was the first time I attended a traumatic cardiac arrest. 

- The crew room is buzzing, we get in the ambulance and make our way to a category 2 “diabetic problems” we have no other details and go in completely blind. It always strikes me as strange how often we just let ourselves into the home of others. He’s sat eating Jam on toast after having a hypo, he’s basically done my job. Correct his own low blood sugars and his elderly mother has it all in hand. We assess and call the GP to request he has a follow up with the diabetic nurse. Job done. 

- We head to the local Asda and let our control room know we need to use facilities. This is code for…. We don’t want to become available yet and have shit to do. In this case I needed some washing tablets and a snack. In this job you have to manage your own time and take the time you need to be ready for the inevitable next job. 

- We have been sent to a man with vomiting and dizziness. We arrived at a lovely property to find a man laid on the floor unable to walk - sweaty, clammy and with very high blood pressure. I suspect he may have had a posterior stroke which affects the balance, vision and mobility. I put in a cannula, administered an anti sickness drug and we blue light him to the hospital. The stroke team is called and they meet us in the ambulance. The hospital is extremely busy and many patients are waiting in the ambulance for a space in A&E. We take the patient to the CT scanner and hand him over, with very little idea about what is actually wrong with him (this is very common). 

- After completing paperwork we are sent back to the ambulance to have our 30 minute break. We are immediately sent to the next patient, stood down, sent to another, stood down and then sent to a 6 month old with a cough and fever. 

- Cute baby! We transport her and mum to the children’s assessment unit for more tests and monitoring. She seems well in herself but we have a policy that all under 2’s with an illness should be reviewed by a pediatrician. 

- More cab chats, with my crew mate about our respective love lives, what we have planned for the week and how tired we are. We make ourselves available with an hour left of our shift. During the last hour we can only be sent to a category 1 emergency which includes seizures, cardiac arrests and births. More on that another time. We both have our fingers crossed that none of these arrive. Tonight we are lucky and go home on time, thanking each other for a lovely day after bonding over silly stories and a shared love for sleep and our jobs.   


So here I am putting it all into words over a wine at the pub x 


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