It's British Science Week (9-18 March, 2018), so we thought it would be a great opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the clinical advances of our paramedic team and how they have improved patient care over recent years.

The sky's the limit for pre-hospital critical care

For the last two years our clinical team has been working towards a degree for air paramedics at Plymouth University and are now studying in their final year. After their first year they became 'Specialist Paramedics – Critical Care’ with the option to continue studying in years 2 and 3.

This is a new qualification that Devon Air Ambulance created in partnership with the university, which has put Devon on the map as a centre of excellence for pre-hospital care. The resulting Master's Degree course for paramedic aircrew makes our team among the highest qualified in the profession.

The first module on the MSc Pre-hospital Critical Care/Transport and Retrieval degree began in early September 2015 and has taken place over a three year period, during which our team has studied for a minimum of 10 hours a week. The first tranche of 20 paramedics have since been joined by newer paramedics who are encouraged to contribute to advancing the body of knowledge underpinning pre-hospital critical care through continued research and further study by continuing beyond the first year.

“The world of pre-hospital emergency medicine is moving very quickly with numerous clinical papers published each month, suggesting new and innovative procedures and practices," says Devon Air Ambulance’s Clinical Support Officer and paramedic, Darren Goodwin.

"The aim of this programme is to equip already highly experienced paramedics with the knowledge to appraise, and where necessary challenge, current thinking and bring their own experience to bear in advancing clinical practice.

"There are existing ‘off-the-shelf’ courses, but we wanted to design a course that addressed the specific needs identified by DAAT and one that addresses the application of theory in practice while benefiting from the very real experiences of paramedics in action.

"This programme not only helps practitioners with their decision-making and enhances the quality of critical care, but it also helps Devon Air Ambulance paramedics to become genuine leaders in their field and to make real and positive changes to best practice.”

Leaders in their field

Amanda Denton, Post-graduate Lead at Plymouth University’s Faculty of Health & Human Sciences, says, “The idea for this degree is a testament to the commitment of everyone involved in the collaboration that the course was up and running within a year.

“We have created a platform for personal, academic and practical advancement in this highly specialised area and it has already caught the attention of the wider profession with paramedics from several other air ambulance services joining the course.

“We are in no doubt that we have developed a model of Paramedic education that will lead the way in clinical development for air ambulance services and create a nationally recognised centre of excellence in pre-hospital critical care.

“I must congratulate DAAT for the vision in identifying the need for this degree and the courage to fund it. It will help future proof the clinical work of air ambulance services everywhere.”

The three year MSc Pre-Hospital Critical Care – Retrieval and Transfer degree is delivered by the School of Health Professions at Plymouth University and led by Amanda Denton and Peter Allum, with the course funded by DAAT.

Look out for forthcoming blogs about specific medical advances and how these are set to improve the lives of our patients. Read more about our incredible team or discover more Devon Air Ambulance storied by reading our blog.