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A day in the life of a prison paramedic

My name is Amanda Wilkinson. I work at HMP Doncaster & YOI as I Senior Paramedic.

I joined in June 2016 as the very first registered Paramedic to work in Offender Health in the UK.

I began my career with South Yorkshire Ambulance in 2003, starting from Patient Transport Services, then developing and training to become an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician, to then lastly again training to become a paramedic. This role enabled me to work as part of a team, or as a lone responder, and also gave me the skills and medical knowledge to provide care packages and treatment that would also allow for patients to be kept in their own home and environment.

Within my entire career, I have always been patient focused with a huge empathy to help ALL people in my care, or come into contact with. 

I applied for the role of Senior Paramedic immediately after seeing the advert. I felt upon reading the description of responsibilities and role that was required in this new environment, exciting and also challenging. To have a paramedic to work in a custodial setting,  providing the very same level of care and treatment, and also to provide the same expectations of treating in-house a remarkable and forward thinking idea in the custodial setting.  

The environment in a prison is certainly different to that I used to work in, however, the patients I deal with are no different to any other person generally speaking, and only in the respect that they can have more challenging behaviours and also require a different approach and understanding.

My main duties are to primarily attend all emergencies within the prison system SOP, and treat and refer all patients where required.  This can be to other health care professionals to include, GP, ANP, Nurse Practitioner, substance misuse team, mental health team, dentist and physiotherapy to name but a few. Also along with the other members in my team, we provide a Minor Illness/Injury triage where patients can phone a booking line for an appointment where we can provide care and treatment. The main aspects of my role include:

  • Working Monday – Friday 08.30/16.30 core duty, which covers the Minor Injury/Illness appointments well.
  • Attending all medical emergencies as and when needed and complete all paperwork around this
  • Seeing patients from nurse handover if required, again complete all paperwork
  • Completing any observations if required
  • Attending wings for acutely unwell patients when required, dependant on demand and within a timely scale
  • Checking all medical equipment, replenish where needed
  • Replacing SOP manuals when required
  • Organising training for other health care in respect to new equipment and their uses
  • Organising training session for ERIC project to coincide with new cohorts of PCO’s 
  • Attending patient focused meetings as and where possible
  • Attending paramedic meetings
  • Supporting nurses with any new prisoner reception
  • Supporting nurses with second checking if short staffing levels are required

When I first arrived at HMP Doncaster to operate as a paramedic, it was unsure to many staff what my main purpose of employment was. Understanding that because the role was so new and unique, I took my time in establishing my footing within what is a mainly nurse led environment. Slowly, over time I feel that both I and my other colleagues in my team are much valued by not only other health care staff, but also prison staff and the offenders themselves. I enjoy collaborating with other health care professionals and learning and understanding differential diagnosis’s of patients.

My added training that I have been provided by Care UK enables me to enhance a patient’s health care whilst they are located within their environment to include ear irrigation, wound care and also Spirometery.

Working in a prison is not for every person. This I agree. However if you like a challenge, wish to experience patients within a different setting, enjoy meeting new people, and believe your role can make a difference to their health care then go ahead, you will always have a role to play however big or small!

It makes me feel proud that I have been able to establish the role of paramedic here at HMP Doncaster, with the continued support of my management team, I feel that this role is now a very big part and important chain of the health care team, and wish only for its continuation and growth. 


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