HEMS Registrar, Dr Nnamdi Udezue joined the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance last year and describes his time here as "the highlight of my professional career to date". Sadly he is leaving next month to head back to Intensive Care and Anaesthetics at Worthing hospital, but we were able to catch up with him on one of his last few shifts and gain a frank insight into his experiences of working for the Trust.
Describe your journey to becoming a member of the KSS air ambulance crew?
I started my medical training at the University of Bristol and first worked as a doctor in the South West, prior to working in Emergency Medicine and Intensive Care in Australia. I also attended the Business school at the University of Cambridge, and worked as a management consultant before moving to Hove in Sussex. Since 2010 my medical training has consisted of Emergency Medicine, Intensive Care, and Anaesthesia, across Brighton and Western Sussex Hospitals. Working for the air ambulance had been a goal that I've been working towards for the last 5 years, so I am immensely proud to be a member of the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance crew.
Now your time with the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance is coming to an end, what is your overall experience of working here?
Working for the air ambulance in my local area has been the highlight of my professional career to date. In hospital, I've seen firsthand the that value of bringing an experienced team and advanced interventions to patients at the scene, and it's been amazing to be part of the team. I've learnt a lot over the year, particularly from our paramedics and pilots, and gained a really useful insight and appreciation of how hard the charity staff work to ensure the we are able to deliver critical care at the roadside.
Do any particular moments from your time here stand out as 'highlights'?
One of the most remarkable things about working for the Trust has been being surrounded by so many motivated people, constantly looking for ways in which we can improve what we do. It's great to be part of an organisation where there is such a focus on teamwork, excellence and improvement. There aren't many jobs in the world where you are happy to get up at 5am - this is one of them!
What would you say was the most challenging aspect of working for an air ambulance?
On a professional level, the environment is very challenging - the scenes that were attend are often chaotic with a lot going on. Many of our patients have a time critical nature to their injuries, and bringing a structured approach to these scene, communicating with and working well with the teams at scene, and delivering the right package of care in a pressured environment can be a real challenge. There are simple things that you take for granted in hospital that you won't get in the prehospital environment - consistent lighting, being dry, and extra support and equipment. On a personal level, I have a young family with a 2.5 year old and a 9 month old at home. My wife has been wonderfully supportive, but there have been times when I haven't really seen the kids for 2 or 3 days, and at that age, they develop so quickly.
Can you describe your relationship with the rest of the crew and how that impacts on your working life?
The crew have been fantastic, our paramedics have taught me so much. They are the real domain experts in prehospital care: it's been their environment throughout their professional careers. They have been very giving with their time and experience, and working side by side with them has helped me develop a lot in a relatively short time. Our pilots are incredibly experienced and I am very grateful to them for keeping us safe. Obviously you can't have a HEMS service without pilots, but they go above and beyond in helping deliver the care our patients receive. They've seen a lot of it before, and their input into the planning and logistics of care is invaluable. They have also been very generous in teaching principles of aviation safety at every opportunity. It's also worth saying that the guys are great fun to work with, and the camaraderie in the team makes a huge difference in our overall team performance and how much I've enjoyed the role.
What are you going on to do after your last shift at the KSS air ambulance?
I'll be heading back to Intensive care and Anaesthetics at Worthing hospital, and on to Brighton the following year. I hope to keep some links with the air ambulance team - it's been an absolute privilege and honour.