Today’s my last day of one week clinical attachment at First Ambulance. To say that I’ve learnt so much is an understatement. Whatever I’ve seen, heard and experienced during the 7 day attachment exceeded all that I’ve read and heard about the poor and chronically sick patients whom I helped to transfer from NKF dialysis center to their home or nursing home. Sometimes, it’s from hospital to home / nursing home vice versa. I had one experience of a violent patient escorted by a nurse and security officer in the ambulance to IMH.
I’ve walked past many NKF dialysis centers before but never had a chance to enter. The glass panels are usually covered or blank out to give patients privacy. What I saw inside on my clinical attachment depressed me. Rows of patients sitting on big comfortable chairs next to blood sucking machines with tubes sticking out their arms cleaning up their wastes and toxins. Some of the patients I had helped to transfer twice. Some with a leg or both legs gone. Some had to rely on oxygen to move around. Most lived in single room rental flats or nursing homes. Kidney failure patients have to undergo dialysis treatment 3 times a week with 4 hours per session.
Everyday I helped to transfer between 5 to 10 patients to and fro for dialysis treatment. There are many ambulances at First Ambulance doing the same routine. Some patients came by taxi. Some sent there by their care-givers in their own transport. Some staying nearby were wheel chaired by their maids. NKF dialysis centers are spread all over the housing estates like mushrooms under the void decks. They are a common sight out numbering the temples, churches or mosques combined and more are being set up as we speak. Each NKF dialysis centre is sponsored by a patron with their company or organization logo prominently displayed. Without their generous support, it would be a huge financial drain on our state resources. Most of the patients are heavily subsidized and are grateful to NKF for giving them hope and a reprieve. For without dialysis treatment, kidney patient will not live beyond 3 days – that’s why the patient has to undergo dialysis 3 times a week in order to live on.
On this morning – the last day of my Healthcare Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) clinical attachment, First Ambulance boss Phillip gave a heartfelt de-briefing and an overall outlook of our healthcare industry. We were impressed by his sense of mission and calling in the healthcare industry viz a viz medical transport for mobility impaired patients.
Phillip in his early 50s told us that he was an off-shore engineer in the marine industry before his foray in medical transportation. In 2013, his wife had a near fatal stroke leading to coma. She depended on medical transport for hospital treatment. On one occasion when the medical transport broke down on an expressway, his wife had to wait for more than an hour for a replacement vehicle. He resolved to get one himself to ferry his wife around. It was extremely dangerous along the expressway shoulder to switch vehicles for a coma patient not to mention the long wait for a replacement vehicle. In those days, medical transport vehicles were few and lacking in reliability.
That’s how Phillip started his own First Ambulance medical transport company when he bought himself an ambulance for his bed ridden wife. His company was set up about 5 years ago. It came into full swing more than 3 years ago. He undergone the grueling para-medic course and subsequently bought many more brand new medical transport vehicles. He told us that now the company has about 60 staff with more than 20 medical transport vehicles catering to mobility impaired patients. He confidently told us that First Ambulance which is MOH accredited is still expanding and moving into new healthcare areas such as home care and home grooming for immobilized clients eg bed ridden, wheel-chair patients etc. With our rapidly aging population and government support, more and more nursing homes are being built to meet the ever increasing demand for such services. As such, he urged us to upgrade ourselves with more healthcare related courses to better serve the healthcare industry.
We are thankful to Phillip and his team for giving us the opportunity to learn hands-on and gained experience as Emergency Medical Technicians at First Ambulance. When we reported back to classroom in the afternoon after lunch, we submitted our reports and shared our ambulance clinical attachment experiences with others from another ambulance company, it was really an eye opener. No classroom setting could give us the real thing. We were glad that we had gone through it.
In war, surprise is everything!
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Good to see you are busy with such a routine. Its a call to be a frontline medical care personnel and all the best to your future endeavours..
Yours sincerely L H Ng
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