Advanced Paramedic Richard McGirr

Advanced Paramedic Richard McGirrBefore becoming a paramedic, I studied genetics and went into forensics as a research scientist. I wanted a career change that would give me a real challenge – so I joined London Ambulance Service as an emergency medical technician. I qualified as a paramedic in 2008 and I’m now part of the first team of advanced paramedics that we have ever had.

The training was bespoke, rigorous and doctor-led. It included a Master’s-level advanced paramedic course and four days with London's Air Ambulance. We learnt how doctors and consultants treat their patients to improve our trauma care, and how to use advanced drugs and sedate patients, which paramedics have never done before.

We target the calls that require complex medical attention, like a house fire or a stroke patient having seizures – or cases where a high level of clinical decision-making is needed. If a patient’s judgement is affected by an acute medical condition, they may not be able to make a rational decision about their course of treatment. We can use our extra training and experience to make decisions on complex legal issues of consent.

I feel very privileged to be part of this team – we get so much exposure to senior consultants. The mentoring from our Medical Director is brilliant too – that isn’t something every paramedic gets access to. It’s exciting because London has never done this before, so I’m learning unique skills and adding a new dimension to how I work. The most important thing for us, as the first advanced team, is to constantly evaluate the way we work. Medicine doesn’t stay still – we have to challenge ourselves all the time to push ourselves forward. This is our chance to shape how pre-hospital medicine looks in the future.