I am a serving paramedic with IW Ambulance Service, so my view is very much from the inside.

The support given to the service from those who have become valued members of our team has been invaluable over the last year. Its therefore saddening to see disparaging comments and replies to IW MP Bob Seely's letter (CP online), effectively dismissing the training and skills of those not wearing an NHS ambulance service uniform.

How many people are aware that away from the pandemic, St John Ambulance, Festimed and Medi4 are all primarily involved in providing medical cover at public events.

Many of those wearing these uniforms have other jobs, some even in NHS ambulance services around the country, some in non-medical settings.

These natural rivals are now working seamlessly together looking after the Island.

Before dismissing St John Ambulance as part-time volunteers, how many people realise that to become ambulance crew in St John those volunteers have been through rigorous training and assessments, all overseen by NHS employed, registered paramedics, with a robust annual set of competencies they must achieve.

How many are aware there are St John volunteers among the paramedics in the IWight Ambulance Service, volunteering their days off from the NHS to crew St John vehicles.

The team of St John Ambulance volunteers who are permanently based on the Island are actually managed by an IW Ambulance Service paramedic.

How many are aware that the very title of paramedic is protected by law.

To use the title, an individual has undertaken an approved training course, either with an NHS Ambulance, or in university, with experience gained again in NHS services.

Whichever route an individual paramedic took, it takes an average three years to gain the right to the use the title.

Once gained, every paramedic must be registered with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) and adhere to the same standards of practice regardless of the uniform they wear. Failure to do so, can literally end an individual's career.

While I am commenting in support of volunteers, let's not forget that many of our friends and colleagues in the Fire and Rescue Service are themselves volunteers, retained firefighters, willing at a moment's notice to drop everything and respond to calls for help from our local communities.

The firefighters who I have worked with, already had a good understanding of ambulance work even from before the pandemic, from the almost daily multi agency callouts we attend.

The experience they have since gained can only enhance the care provided to the next road accident victim, or the next person involved in a fire.

Likewise, the skills and more importantly the experience gained by the crews of the St John, Festimed and Medi4 ambulances will ensure visitors to, hopefully, upcoming festivals and public events are cared for proficiently and professionally, be it they need a plaster, or they need full resuscitation care.

So please, regardless of the political arguments around funding for our service, respect the very dedicated and skilled individuals who are, every day, supporting us in looking after the Island.

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