Glossopian comes home as Community Specialist Paramedic

Val Cochrane has come home to become Glossop's Community Specialist Paramedic. She told us about her new role and the benefits she hopes to bring to her home town, as well as the challenges and rewards of working in the "greatest job in the world". One of Val's roles is to locate all the defibrillators in the area, which coincides with the NWAS ‘Shocktober’ promotion. Full story below.

1. What does your role as CSP involve?
My role is very new so I’m still establishing how I can best assist the community and the health services in the area.  This role has been developed by North West Ambulance Service to support collaborative working between local community care teams, GPs and care commissioners to promote a reduction in avoidable hospital admissions.  All of the CSPs are actively producing and reviewing patient care plans in order to support and empower  patients;  enabling them to receive safer care, closer to home.  There will also be elements of education and training, to highlight how best to access services such as 999 or 111, showcasing alternative care pathways in the local community and supporting community first responder recruitment.
We are all qualified and experienced Paramedics, so we are all available to respond to 999 calls too.

2. How did you get to where you are today?
I joined the ambulance service in 1996 and qualified as a paramedic in 1999. I worked in  the south area of Manchester (Stockport) as well as at our Headquarters in Bolton (as an instructor, training manager and ultimately Advanced Paramedic) until July 2012.  I then left NWAS and went to live and work as a paramedic in the Isle of Man. 
More recently I have worked as an Emergency Care Practitioner for Lincolnshire Community Health Services and East Midlands Ambulance Service as a Paramedic before returning home to Glossop and my new role within NWAS.

3. What are the best bits of your role?
Making a difference in the area that I live in and meeting people.  Changing people’s opinions about what the ambulance service does (and doesn’t do).

4. What are the challenges in your role?
Working across a variety of different agencies across different counties: for example, Glossop’s health services are provided by two different bodies within Greater Manchester whereas social service provision, housing, education, police and fire services are managed together in Derbyshire. 

5. What qualities do you need to do your job?
Flexibility, an open mind, tenacity, attention to detail and a sense of humour.

6. What do you want to achieve in your role?
I want to make sure the people of Glossop have access to the best possible health services – for acute or chronic conditions. I also want to help educate the community in how to help themselves where possible.

7. What advice would you give to someone thinking of getting a job like yours or joining the ambulance service?
Being a paramedic is the greatest job in the world….but it’s nothing like ‘Casualty’.   Although the hours can be very long, and you find it hard to keep in touch with some friends, as a paramedic  you make lots of new ones. 

If you’re not sure, try being a Community First Responder or volunteer in some other capacity to give you as taste of what the role might be.  If you don’t like people – don’t join the ambulance service!

8. What are your long term career aspirations? 
The CSP role has given me an opportunity to ‘come home’ to Glossop and work towards the goal of making a real difference for the people of Glossop.  I would be very happy to continue in this role until I retire if that is possible! 

9. What do you wish other people knew about your job?
It can be hard and challenging; no two days are the same but that’s what I love about it.  I know that there’s a lot of hard work to be done, but I’m more than ready to get started.

10. What makes you proud to work at NWAS?
Having now worked for a number of other ambulance services and NHS trusts I am proud to be working for NWAS again. The standards of governance and clinical quality are very high and that means better patient outcomes. NWAS are working very hard to be innovative and bring in new ways of working – without sacrificing any aspect of patient care. 

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