He has delivered two babies, attended numerous traffic accidents, and
helped hundreds of people in county Roscommon through some of their worst
hours, yet it’s all in a day’s work for Leading Ambulance Paramedic, Sean
Simon from Knockvicar has worked with the HSE West ambulance service for
the past 12 years, based in the ambulance station adjacent to Plunkett Home in
trained with the National Ambulance training school in the Phoenix Park in
Dublin, having come to the service from a driving and civil defence background.
Many people currently working in the ambulance service have a background in
either civil defence or Order of Malta.
work in a pre-hospital environment. We are first to respond to any incident in
the community. Our role varies, we could be going to a house call, to an old
woman who is sick, or a road traffic accident, or a cardiac incident. A lot of times
we don’t know how bad it is until we get there.
ambulance has two personnel, both trained as paramedics. We would rotate the
driving and the paramedic skills. Our main aim would be to assess, treat and
transport the patient, be it from a house or a road traffic accident or
incident. We also liaise with other services like the fire brigade and
the ambulance base in Boyle, people go to hospitals in Sligo, Mullingar,
Roscommon and Portiuncula. “In our station we do 12 hour shifts, and the
station is operational 365 days per year - there is always one crew on. Boyle
is a busy station, covering an area from Rooskey to Carracastle, and from
Ballaghaderreen to Arigna. In Roscommon, the shifts are 12 hours long and
because of the hospital, the station in Roscommon does a lot of hospital
transfers, with five crews on in any one day.
is trained in cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and there are cardiac
machines on board the ambulances, so that results of monitoring can be faxed
ahead to the cardiac units in the hospital. Trained ambulance paramedics can
also administer certain drugs to cardiac patients.
calls go in to ambulance control and they take the details of the people
involved, their address and the directions. There is no such thing as an
average week. Every day varies so much. It can be a local transfer from a
nursing home to a hospital, a maternity call, a road traffic accident, a
cardiac related call, ‘MIs’ we call them. This morning we had two or three road
traffic accidents alone. Within the service there are opportunities for
advancement, to Assistant Instructor of Trained Driving Instructor. I’m an
Assistant Instructor and a trained driving instructor.”
the moment, a campaign is underway in the emergency services to make sure that
advanced driving courses are undertaken by all paramedics. Sean trained at the
Garda College in Templemore and the courses are now available with Castlebar
driving school. “We have a great record, but this is part of a campaign to
up-skill in the area. Driver safety is very important. Accidents don’t happen,
they are caused. There is a huge emphasis on safe motoring. Everyone has the
responsibility once they get into a vehicle and child safety is very
training would entail a 26-week programme with hospital placement in all the
different areas, maternity, orthopaedic, ambulance control, medical trauma,
surgery and post mortems. Then you become a third member of a crew for a
period. Before you do your final exams you have to have 100 emergency calls
completed and all your notebooks and journals written up for that.
is an Advanced Paramedic course and that has been done in conjunction with UCD,
so we have a diploma in medical science. Advanced Paramedics haven’t been
rolled out yet. We have five in this area ready to be rolled out. They would be
able to give more advanced treatment to patients, for example they can intubate
patients and give controlled drugs.”
Sean is called to incidents which hit the headlines, such as a train derailment
in Roscommon in the 1990s, at which there were thankfully no major casualties.
has also delivered two babies in his time. “It’s very natural when everything
goes fine. It’s only if there are complications that problems arise,” said
Sean. One of the babies was delivered in Ballaghaderreen and one in Castlerea.
“We were going to Sligo maternity unit and we didn’t make it …” recalls Sean.
takes a certain type of people to work in the ambulance service. It is very
demanding and you have to love the job. You have to be of a caring nature and
be kind to people. We are trained to respond to people and from a social point
of view, you need skills and general common sense and understanding of people.
We meet people at their worst time in their lives. A lot of the time people are
in shock and don’t respond as favourably as they would like to. Until something
happens, people don’t realise that the service is there.”
from responding to the calls which present themselves, much time is also spent
planning for a major incident. Last week, members of the ambulance service in
Mayo, Roscommon and Galway gathered in Galway and, while many people were
preoccupied with going to the polls, they were planning a reaction to a major
regularly meet with the voluntary services and the guards and the fire service
and they all have a major incident plan. So if anything happens in an area, the
plan is rolled out. The first ambulance on site gives feedback, location,
hazards involved, access and egress routes, the number of casualties and other
services required. Then they would stand down unnecessary work and put
ambulances on stand by.”
his 12 years in the service, Sean has seen great change. “We have come a huge
distance in many ways from when I started. The ambulances were petrol,
two-stretcher vehicles and were small enough inside. At the moment we would
have one-stretcher vehicles. The ramps are better and we have better
stretchers, better lifting and moving devices and the ambulances have got
bigger. The new fleet are Mercedes vans and the ambulances came from Germany.”
new national ambulance service means more promotional prospects for Sean and
his colleagues and no doubt he’s looking to progress his career within the
service. The HSE recently initiated a recruitment drive for 320 new ambulance
service personnel. Apart from the new recruits, the rolling out of a further 60
advanced paramedics is also planned, and 65 new vehicles are getting on to the
road all across the country.
a varied career and with 320 new personnel due to be recruited by the HSE over
the next three years