Wellington Free Ambulance is here for everyone no matter what the emergency.
However, if a patient’s condition is unexpected and urgent, but not life threatening, they could receive help from community-based Urgent Community Care (UCC) paramedics.
The UCC service was introduced in Kāpiti in 2009 by Wellington Free Ambulance Medical Director Andy Swain and Extended Care Paramedic Paul Fake, and this month it celebrates its 10th birthday!
Since its inception, Andy explains that the focus of UCC has been to manage 111 calls that did not automatically warrant an ambulance response.
“It was thought that a single, purpose-trained Paramedic could successfully assess and treat many of these patients at home, with further options of referring them to a GP or other health professional through community care pathways,” Andy says.
The service has come on greatly over the years, and Andy explains there is now group of Extended Care Paramedics (ECP) who look after thousands of patients across Kāpiti and Porirua every year.
“Patients love this personalised approach,” he says.
“Those with lower acuity problems or palliative care treatment often don’t want an ambulance, or to go to hospital. Our ECPs are able to give more time to the assessments and care without automatically transferring the patient to hospital, and they are extremely popular.”
Andy is very excited about the future and potential growth of the service across other communities.
“UCC is seen as a definitive career by many of our staff and paramedic students which is great. The service could be usefully extended to the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa however that does depend on resourcing.”
Andy says there is only one health professional who will do a home visit on demand, 24/7, and that’s a paramedic.
“UCC paramedics are trained to assess a patient’s condition and make professional and clinical decisions about the best course of action; whether that’s treating them safely at home or transporting them to a medical centre or hospital.”
Throughout May we’ll be learning more about UCC as we share stories from those who have been working in the service since its inception, and from those who are new to the role.