A new generation of life-savers has entered the workforce after graduating from the University of Sunderland, helping to address the national shortage of paramedics.
The newly qualified paramedics were the first to have access to the university’s Living Lab with its interactive learning facilities and simulation equipment, when they started their course in 2016.
The students were employed by North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), allowing them to balance studying with working their operational shifts, applying what they learned at university into real, life-saving situations.
Denise Bridge spent 10 years with the NEAS, first as an emergency care assistant and then as a technician. She said that she always had the confidence that a paramedic clinical lead was available to act as her “blanket of support”.
Now, after two years of hard work, she is part of the first cohort to qualify with a Paramedic Practice HE Diploma.
She said: “The course has been an incredible personal challenge, balancing a full-time job with my studies, and I’m relieved I’ve got through it. When I passed, I walked around in a daze thinking ‘I have done it’! This is not the type of career you can do unless you love it.”
Steve Merrifield is also looking to put his learning to the test, having completed his two years of study.
He said: “It has been intense but definitely worth it. Working long shifts then coping with the study takes organisation but we’ve all had incredible support from the University and the North East Ambulance Service.
“The lectures have been really easy to access and we’ve been looked after all the way.”