One patient at a time…

02 November 2022
Volume 14 · Issue 11


In his last column, Barry Costello looks back at his highs and lows as an NQP

‘Barry stop worrying so much, one day you'll look up and 30 years will have passed, just do the best you can, learn from it, and move on—one patient at a time… now, it's 4 am, for the love of all that is holy, stop asking me questions before I bludgeon you to death with that ‘little Annie’ doll in the corner!’

When I was a student paramedic, my mentor had a steady string of little pearls of wisdom like this, always hidden behind a wall of dark humour and cynicism, but that were equally endearing towards my untainted, and unhinged enthusiasm for all things paramedic. And while I did not fully know what he meant at the time, after 3 years as a student, and now 2 as an NQP, I am finally starting to understand it.

It feels like just yesterday that I walked onto my ambulance station for the first time, ready to take on the world as a brand new, shiny, keen, and very green NQP—but nothing could have prepared me for the turbulent 2 years that would follow. Against the backdrop of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, I have experienced the endless highs and lows of what it truly means to be a paramedic. I have been at the side of patients, and held their hand through some of the darkest—and the brightest—times in their lives. I have seen more death and families torn apart than most ‘normal’ people will ever experience in their lifetime. In a single shift, I have felt like I could ‘high-five’ everyone in the room, including the patient, the doctors and nurses, while at the end of it feeling completely lost, and hopeless, questioning just about every clinical decision I made that day. But the one constant that has gotten me through the tough days has always been that of my crew mates (crewies)—no matter what, they always manage to find the light and (filthy) humour to make me smile.

Subscribe to get full access to the Journal of Paramedic Practice

Thank you for visiting the Journal of Paramedic Practice and reading our archive of expert clinical content. If you would like to read more from the only journal dedicated to those working in emergency care, you can start your subscription today for just £48.

What's included

  • CPD Focus

  • Develop your career

  • Stay informed