Hertfordshire is set to get 67 new student paramedics as part of a big recruitment drive by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
The plans to hire 411 student paramedics were set out by chief executive Anthony Marsh last month as part of a turnaround plan for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST).
By the end of March, the students are expected to be working alongside qualified paramedics on double staffed ambulances helping patients across Herts, as well as Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk.
The trust is also looking to replicate the student paramedic recruitment drive in the 2015/16 financial year to further boost staffing numbers at EEAST to help continue improvements.
Dr Marsh said: “When I joined as chief executive last year, we began the most ambitious ambulance recruitment campaign in the country to hire 400 student paramedics and I am delighted that we have achieved that target.
“It is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our staff that we have achieved this landmark.
“More than 300 are already working on the front-line and the remaining new recruits will complete their initial training next month.
“This is helping to improve EEAST’s performance and response times to patients.
“However, we know there is more work to do and that is why we will be aiming to recruit another 400 student paramedics in 2015/16 to help deliver further improvements and to keep up with demand.”
All of EEAST’s student paramedics go through eight weeks of training in the classroom and three weeks of blue light driver training before starting on the front-line.
They will receive three more weeks of classroom training in their first nine months as students.
The first crop of student paramedics that were hired in 2014 are set to become fully qualified in two years.
Rachel Harrold, 22, from Norwich, who is one of the Trust’s newest student paramedics after two years working as a hospital nurse assistant, said she was looking forward to getting on the front-line.
“I am excited and it is a really rewarding job. The course is really challenging, but interesting. The trainers are brilliant and so supportive,” she said.
Gary Maynard, 57, from Thetford, who is another new recruit, decided to join the ambulance service after a career as a professional photographer. He will be working in Bury St Edmunds.
“I have been doing first aid since I was nine-years-old and I have been a first aider at work. It is something I always wanted to do and I never had the opportunity.”
“The training is tough, but it is really enjoyable and the trainers make it really interesting,” he said.
For updates on EEAST’s recruitment campaign in 2015/16, visit http://www.eastamb.nhs.uk/