A real lifesaver

Student Paramedic of the Year Amy O'Hara

Published on 11 January 2018

A young Sunderland student has been singled out for her cool head and dedication to patient care, and named the North East Ambulance Service Student of the Year.

Amy O'Hara, 24, from Ferryhill, County Durham, is a Student Paramedic, working with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS). She is studying a two year diploma course in Paramedic Practice at the University.

NEAS’s annual Beyond the Call of Duty Awards recognise outstanding contributions of NEAS employees and volunteers who embody the Trust’s vision of ‘Unmatched quality of care for every life we touch’.

Paramedic Adam Higginbottom nominated Amy after the young student worked alongside him on four night shifts. One incident in particular, a female patient in mental health crisis out of hours, caused Adam to make the nomination.

Amy immediately recognised that Accident and Emergency was not the most appropriate place for this patient and called round a number of different teams until she found the right professional health care for her patient.

Recognising the patient’s husband was also struggling, Amy also ensured he received additional support to look after his wife.

Adam was impressed with how Amy handled the situation, particularly that she saw the whole job through without giving up and passing the job on to the senior paramedic.

Amy says: “To this day I still can't believe I was nominated and went on to win the award. I didn't feel like I did anything special, I was just doing my job as other people would.

“Being a paramedic has always been my dream. I joined the North East Ambulance Service as an Emergency Care Assistant in 2015, and gained experience out on the road working with a paramedic as part of a crew. I knew then that being a paramedic was the right job for me.”

The Student of the Year award recognises a rising star within the NHS, someone who shows clear potential for the future.

NEAS Chief Executive Yvonne Ormston said: “Our employees make a difference, day in, day out, and our Beyond the Call of Duty Awards are our chance to take the time to recognise the amazing work of the truly remarkable team here at the North East Ambulance Service.

“Amy, like all of our worthy winners, truly embodies our values of responding to the needs of individuals and treating patients and colleagues with compassion, care, dignity and respect. She has a bright career ahead of her and we look forward to welcoming her back full-time as a paramedic when she qualifies.”

For now Amy is continuing her studies at Sunderland, and hopes to qualify this summer.

“I want to build up my skills and experience to become the best paramedic I can be, and hopefully make a difference to people’s lives in their time of need.”

Victoria Duffy, Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Skills in the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing, said: "The programme is a challenging programme which requires our students to work a 24/7 shift pattern in emergency and unpredictable care environments as well as studying full-time.

"Amy was one of our first recruits to the Diploma of Higher Education in Paramedic Practice and is a shining example of good humour, dedication and hard work. We are very proud of all our NEAS student paramedics and it is a testament to Amy and her excellent patient care skills that she has won this award.

 “I’m sure she will continue to touch many patients’ lives in a positive way."

About North East Ambulance Service

North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) covers 3,200 square miles across the North East region.  It employs more than 2,600 staff and serves a population of 2.7 million people by handling all NHS111 and 999 calls for the region, operating patient transport and ambulance response services, delivering training for communities and commercial audiences and providing medical support cover at events.

In 2016/17 the service answered over 1 million emergency 999 and NHS 111 calls, responded to almost 300,00 incidents that resulted in a patient being taken to hospital, treated and discharged 24,000 patients with telephone advice and treated and discharged 92,141 patients at home.

Nominations are now open for the 2018 NEAS awards. To make a nomination, please visit https://www.neas.nhs.uk/staff-awards.aspx