Ruth & Pete - Ambulance Crew

Last year, North West Ambulance Service's (NWAS) emergency ambulances reached patients in life-threatening situations in seven minutes on average. Despite this impressive figure, it's not all about speed for ambulance crews, such as NWAS' Pete Sutcliffe and Ruth Thomas, as they are also measured nationally on the clinical quality of the care they provide to patients.

Long gone are the days of ambulance drivers, who would scoop up patients and rush them straight to the nearest hospital. Ambulance crews of today are highly skilled clinicians who assess and treat patients at the scene, work out the right care for their needs and refer them to healthcare professionals in local communities, or transport them to a variety of destinations for further care, including urgent care centres, trauma centres, specialist centres and emergency departments.

Ruth, an emergency medical technician, has been through a rigorous training course in medical theory and practise and emergency driving, while Pete is a fully qualified paramedic, a position which now requires the completion of a two year university course.

Pete said: "I wanted to work in the ambulance service to follow in my father's footsteps and help people every day. Through the #Team999 campaign we are giving ordinary people an insight into the workings of the ambulance service, so they can learn about all the different members of NWAS they may encounter after calling 999.

"For minor injuries and illnesses, it can take up to four hours for ambulance crews like Ruth and me to get there. It's important that we prioritise people in serious, life-threatening situations, so if you're thinking of calling us for any another reason, you should think about what else is out there and, ultimately, where you'll get the most appropriate care. For example, people should consider getting alternative transport to hospital, visiting their GP or an NHS walk-in centre, calling NHS 111 or following self-care advice at home."

Ruth wanted to work in the ambulance service because she is a deeply caring person, with a drive to make a positive difference. She said: "Being part of an ambulance crew is an amazing job and I find myself encountering new people and situations every single day.

With, on average, three emergency ambulances operating in Preston City Centre at one time, Ruth encourages the public to think before calling on the skills and equipment that she and Pete offer so that they can get to people who really need them as quickly as possible.

She continued: "Sometimes we are called to situations which could've been resolved in a different way, potentially diverting a vital resource away from someone, in a life or death situation, who really needs it.

"We're not trying to discourage people from calling 999. We are simply trying to show people that calling 999 does not automatically mean receiving an ambulance that will take the patient to hospital, as this isn't always in their best interests."

Find out what a typical shift for Pete invovles in his day in the life diary.