9 Jun 2016

As London's Air Ambulance’s new HELIMED app has just been launched, Karen King, a paramedic who features in the app talks about her experience as an advanced trauma paramedic.

“Via the HELIMED app young people can gain a realistic insight into our work: the type of cases we attend and the decisions that need to be made under pressure on a daily basis. I spent nine months with London's Air Ambulance in 2013 and it was a fantastic experience, an incredible learning opportunity. I got to work with some truly exceptional people and saw many challenging cases.”  

“HELIMED is my first opportunity to get involved in inspiring the next generation of paramedics and I find it really exciting. I think it would have been quite useful for me to spark my interest had there been such an app when I was at school. I think it is a really great way to encourage young people’s involvement in undertaking the STEM topics and thinking ahead to related careers.”

It also took a while for Karen to find her career path as a paramedic.

“In school my favorite subject was science. I had a really inspiring chemistry teacher whose teaching encouraged us to get fully involved in the classes and his experiments. This made us realise it could be a fascinating subject. Also the chance to wear some protective goggles and use a bunsen burner made us feel quite important! However, I also really loved doing art, especially drawing. So when it came to deciding what career to pursue, it was really difficult to make up my mind as my two main passions were completely different things. But as I felt I was not good enough to make a career out of arts, I ended up studying both science and geography at college and continued on to a geography degree as I had really enjoyed this subject as much as the sciences. Later I realised I wanted to return to something science or medically based as a career as I felt this was where I had a real interest. I had some friends who were working in medical professions and really enjoyed hearing about their work. It seemed challenging, rewarding and also gave the opportunity to work in different environments. It made me realise that it could be a profession I would really enjoy. I had the opportunity to ride out with a crew and get a small insight into how the job would be and from then worked towards this career pathway. Although my mum was unsure if I was well suited to the role as I didn’t really like the sight of vomit! Luckily I was able to overcome this problem quite quickly and I really enjoyed my paramedic studies.” 

Commenting on her favorite aspects of her job, Karen said:

“One thing I really enjoy about being a paramedic is the environment you get to work in. It changes day to day, you always encounter something new. You also get to work with many different people but everyone has the same mentality which makes it a really nice team environment. This job can also be really challenging, which is tough and enjoyable at the same time. The benefit of all your training shows when you can provide the care needed for the patient. That is the driving force — the patient at the end of the day.” 

Karen also shares her advice for young people considering STEM careers: 

“I think STEM careers can be hugely rewarding and provide so many opportunities. The career paths could lead to researching treatments that could help patient care in the future, designing new technologies or teaching the next generation. I think we need to encourage young people that many things are possible and with drive, ambition and support they can achieve their goals.”

Read about HELIMED