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Examining the type and frequency of incidents attended by UK paramedics

02 September 2019
Volume 11 · Issue 9


Various factors have widened the variety of incidents that UK paramedics, practising in a non-specialist role, may be required to attend. This study set out to identify the type and frequency of incidents attended by paramedics, as well as establishing whether geographical location and time of year bear any influence. The study involved a quantitative retrospective review of paramedic-completed patient clinical records, across two locations and the span of 1 year. Results demonstrated the infrequent exposure of paramedics to serious illness/trauma, as well as limited associations of significance in relation to location and time of year. The infrequent nature of certain incidents raises potential issues of skill decay for paramedics; closely aligned to this is their ongoing education, and how learning is best balanced between the infrequent, serious presentations, and those that are frequent but less serious.

Paramedicine, like only a few other medical professions, has a nature which is ‘specialist generalist’ (College of Paramedics (CoP), 2013; 2015). As such, paramedics are expected to be able to manage any patient they are presented with, from minor to major illness or injury (Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), 2005; CoP, 2017). This broad scope of practice may present issues for paramedics when the infrequent nature of some incidents, such as major trauma and cardiac arrest, is considered (DHSC, 2005; National Audit Office (NAO), 2010). In addition to and compounding this, within a changing NHS, there are various historical and contemporary political drivers altering the practice landscape, and therefore incidents attended by paramedics (DHSC, 2005; Association of Ambulance Chief Officers (AACE), 2011; NHS England, 2015).

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