A University of Worcester sports student has joined the healthcare efforts against the coronavirus by helping to ensure patients get the help that they need.
Laura Hollis responded to the drive from West Midlands Ambulance Service, which wanted to bolster its 111 call assessor workforce in response to the current pandemic. Acting as a triage service for 111 calls, these call assessors have to be able to react to almost anything, including telling someone how to do CPR on a patient who is in cardiac arrest.
“Before I started I had felt helpless, so I’m really happy that I can be contributing to the effort against Covid-19,” said the 22-year-old, of Kidderminster. “I wanted to help because I could; I had the means to get to work and I’m not doing anything else. My mum’s so proud. When I first wore my uniform, she sent the photo to absolutely everybody.”
Laura was due to be working as a ski instructor in Austria for a month in the holidays, which then became impossible. But, with qualifications in first aid and experience as a cadet with St John’s Ambulance for two years in her youth, when Laura spotted the call assessor work it immediately appealed.
The second year Sport and Exercise Science student is one of more than 300 that WMAS has recruited so far. She started her training towards the end of April and is now doing proper shifts in the call centre. With each call, Laura asks the patient key clinical questions and then signposts the caller to the appropriate service or gives advice.
“It’s been a real mixture,” she said. “I thought there was going to be more Covid related ones. I have had a few not necessarily with symptoms, but wanting information. It has ranged from contact your GP in five days to sending an ambulance. I think people aren’t treating things as seriously as before because they don’t want to go into hospital.
“I’ve had a couple of challenging calls that have been difficult and I am now gaining more confidence in cutting in when someone is going through their situation with me.”
Despite being signed off on her training, Laura says there is plenty of support from those overseeing operations on hand in the call centre and also clinical specialists, such doctors and dentists, that she can call on for guidance.
She hopes the role will hone her communications skills and build her confidence. However, she also believes it is a good opportunity to gain a greater understanding of this field, as she is keen to explore a career in exercise and health, perhaps cardiac rehabilitation.
Laura, a former pupil of the King Charles I School, in Kidderminster, said she used the month-long wait to start this new job as motivation to complete all her degree assignments. She said she had found the University’s online learning a positive experience.