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13 Dec 2016

Paramedics: A Day in the Life

Daily Life

Working as a paramedic is an extremely rewarding role but one that is also difficult; with long hours and a variety of required skillsets, it takes a certain kind of person to succeed in this field. 

Here are a few things you can expect from your day to day role as a paramedic.

Long Hours

Paramedic jobs are notorious for their long shifts which are often billed as around 10 hours, but in reality end up being more like 11/12. This is because as a paramedic you can be called out right up until you go off duty, so if your shift is billed to finish at 1700 and you get a call at 1655, you still need to attend. If it's a big emergency this can often mean not finishing until 2, 3 or more hours after your shift was supposed to end.

Shift patterns are also varied with shifts covering all hours of the day, so a good paramedic will need to be versatile enough to function effectively at 0400 and 2300 regardless of the job.

Short Breaks

Long hours should mean long, frequent breaks, right? Not if it's a busy shift. There are break times allotted and you will be scheduled in for these during the day where they can be fitted, but don't expect to have a regular break time on a daily basis as this can change at the drop of a hat. This is somewhat compensated for on quiet shifts when there is a lot of down-time and waiting around for calls.

It is not uncommon for breaks to be cut short or cancelled halfway through if there is an emergency that you ned to attend. Every paramedic has tales of abandoned lunches and half drunk cups of tea that have to be left as they get called out.


Paramedics are often the first medically trained person on the scene of an incident or accident, which can mean that there are many people to attend to. A skilled paramedic will need to be able to keep track of these initial casualties and assess their conditions, prioritising them accordingly and applying treatment to them. 

Ambulances are mobile A&E's, with all the necessary equipment to provide emergency medical care. Utilising it as a tool for many people on the scene of a road traffic accident, for example, takes a person who is skilled at multi-tasking.

All the Skills!

Multi-tasking is one thing, but actually acquiring the skills is another. Whilst being highly trained in primary care, paramedics also have to acquire other skills to make them effective at their jobs. Driving under emergency conditions is just one of these, with ambulances needing to reach their destination safely and quickly this is an essential skill. Paramedics also need to have an excellent knowledge of physiology and some advanced medical knowledge to help them provide the best primary care during the transfer to hospital; including advanced resuscitation techniques for the most serious cases.