On the Road With a British Medic

Colin T. Son, MD


September 08, 2009

As a physician, I thought that I was privileged to see the "intimate," perhaps surlier, side of humanity. But I've got nothing on the paramedic in terms of stories.

Medic999: I recall one lady who I had gone to, who was having chest pain. She was in the front room of her house with her daughter and son-in-law. She was a widower, and was a sprightly 69 yr old who still looked very fit and active. After finding out her history and presenting symptoms, I asked her if it would be alright if I undid her top so that I could get to her chest to do a 12 lead ECG?

Patient: Ooohh. "There's an offer I haven't had in a while!"

This is an excerpt from Medic999, a blog written by Mark, a paramedic working for the North East Ambulance Service in the United Kingdom. Medic999 offers a tantalizing look at life as a first responder.

Medic999 hosts Grand Rounds
September 8, 2009

For the United States physician, Medic 999 also offers a look at how emergency services are provided in different countries. In fact, Mark's exploits may soon be part of a BBC reality TV show when he switches places with a US-based blogger, Happy Medic, as part of a medic "exchange program."

This is something he's very excited about:

We hope to experience the good and maybe not so good of each other's services, and learn from each other the difficulties that are both unique and common to paramedics across "the pond".

When he joins Happy Medic on his rounds as a firefighter paramedic in San Francisco, Medic999 will also glimpse privatized healthcare in action:

I am really looking forward to experiencing the workings of a Fire based EMS system, along with the perceived difficulties that we all hear about privatised health care. Is it all bad? or are there some good things that may find their way over to the UK? I am also looking forward to showing Happy Medic how we do things over here.

Socialised healthcare is pretty much top of the agenda in US politics at the moment, certainly for healthcare workers. It's going to be fascinating to see what HM [Happy Medic] actually thinks of it, as well as our systems of not having to take all patients to hospital, and our ability to refer on to other health care providers. I am sure that there are going to be many, many things that are incompatible between our two systems, but maybe there will be some that do work and that can improve things even further for all of our emergency patients in both of our countries.

Catch up with Medic999 when he hosts Grand Rounds on September 8, 2009. Each week, Grand Rounds keeps you posted on what's new in the medical blogosphere by featuring the best online writing from physicians, nurses, pharmacists, policy wonks, students, patients, and others interested in healthcare.


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