Edinburgh paramedics open up on realities of the job on city streets

Steve Reiffer branded his role the "most rewarding experience"
-Credit: (Image: Scottish Ambulance Service)

Edinburgh paramedics have opened up on what their jobs are like, marking International Paramedics Day.

The day looks to shine a light on the "incredible" workers who dedicate themselves to helping others. Their site adds that it "celebrates the work carried out by paramedics and first responders around the world".

Steve Reiffer, a paramedic at Edinburgh City Station, said it is the "most rewarding experience" for him.

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Steve moved over from Australia where he began his career as a paramedic. He said: "I have been fortunate to have been able to experience working in the pre-hospital care sector across a few countries and regions.

"Having recently relocated to Scotland from sunny Yorkshire, I was afforded the opportunity to join the Scottish Ambulance Service’s Resuscitation Rapid Response Unit. Working as a solo responder on a Paramedic Response Unit, I respond to calls in the city of Edinburgh and surrounding area. Edinburgh really is a fairytale of a city with its historic streets and bustling with tourism and students all year long.

"SAS have been nothing but welcoming and supportive and I am grateful for the opportunity to live and work up here. I am lucky to work alongside a very strong and experienced team of Paramedics who provide 3RU coverage across the Lothian region.

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"Our role is to act as a pre-hospital resuscitation team leader. We support our technician and paramedic colleagues with critical on-scene decision making and respond to life threatening emergencies including medical and traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrests."

Steve said that he and his colleagues not only attend to the patients, but their relatives - and bystanders to an event. He continued: "Paramedics have a unique role, in that we are allowed to enter people’s homes, without hesitation, provide care and support to them when they are at their most vulnerable in their own bed or on a kitchen chair, and - most importantly - potentially provide life-saving interventions.

"Although a positive outcome is not always achievable, when we work as a team to provide high quality resuscitation and achieve a ROSC that might save the life of somebody’s loved one, that is the most rewarding experience for me. While I am a newcomer to the team, since its inception in 2014 by the Resuscitation Research Group, the SAS-lead 3RU program has a proven track record of improving the outcomes of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

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"There are still a few of the original members about, and over the past ten years of attending potentially several arrests per shift, the difference each one of them have made individually is enormous."

Andrew Garven is a Practice Educator Paramedic with the Scottish Ambulance Service based in Edinburgh and the Lothians. He said: “I took on the additional responsibilities of being a Practice Educator in 2023.

"This means that for much of the year, I have the privilege to help mentor, educate, and support Paramedic students at the beginning of their journey to become the fully qualified and autonomous Paramedics of the future. Mentoring for me is extremely rewarding. Guiding and helping others to hone and develop their knowledge and skills is a positive aspect of my job. One that I relish and constantly seek to self-improve in."