Emma King will be on the frontline of the national effort to protect the population from Covid-19 after being trained to administer the vital vaccination.
Alongside studying for her degree, the first-year Paramedicine student has been a member of St John Ambulance for the past three years. When Emma received the call-out for volunteers to join the mass vaccination programme, she signed up straight away.
“I’ve been given this amazing opportunity to help people,” she said. “We’ve been learning how to administer vaccinations as part of my degree, so this is a chance to share my skills and experience.
“I’ll also be learning how to teach the process to others and equip more people with the skills needed for the nationwide roll-out.”
This is not the first time that the 41-year-old from Swadlincote, South Derbyshire, has been a keyworker during the global pandemic. From April to September, she volunteered in the emergency department at Chesterfield Royal Hospital with St John Ambulance.
She said: “I decided to volunteer at the hospital to provide an extra pair of hands and help NHS staff during the peak of the crisis. I was able to assist them with transferring patients and performing observations.
“It was a really eye-opening experience and invaluable for getting used to helping vulnerable people and Covid-19 patients.”
Since starting her degree in September, Emma has been balancing university work, placements and family life. As a mother of two, she waited until her children started school before pursuing her passion for paramedicine.
“I’ve wanted to get into healthcare for some time, but I just never found the right opportunity. Paramedicine really appealed to me because no day is the same – you’re out there meeting and helping people, often the first on the scene,” she said.
Emma completed an Access to Higher Education course in healthcare to bridge the gap since leaving full-time education. She wanted to choose a university that was commutable from home and was drawn to the programme at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
“Paramedicine at DMU is a fairly new degree – it’s been designed to reflect the modern model of paramedic and prepares you for the different roles available when you graduate.
“When I came to do my interview, the minute I started walking around campus it felt so comfortable. Something just clicked in the interview and it felt like the right place for me.
“The tutors and lecturers were so interactive and enthusiastic about what they do – I was over the moon when I received my offer to study on the programme,” she said.
Due to the current circumstances, the teaching on the course has been ‘blended’, with a mix of face-to-face sessions and online learning.
Emma said: “I commute to university, so the blended approach has actually been really convenient for me as I’ve been able to do some of the theoretical learning from home while juggling family life.
“Being a paramedic is all about the experience – no patient presents like a textbook so it’s really important to get hands-on practice. We have several sessions on campus per week to train with equipment and learn manual handling skills.
“I’ve felt really safe in the classes because the numbers are reduced, and we all wear PPE during the physical sessions.”
As part of her degree, Emma has been out on placements with an ambulance crew and the pilot Covid-19 test centre at DMU has been critical.
“Having the lateral flow test centre on campus has been amazing – it’s so reassuring that we can turn up on placement secure in the knowledge that we’re not spreading the virus.
“I’m so appreciative of everything the university has done to support us,” she said.
Posted on Thursday 17th December 2020