Deano in Samoa
Updated: Mar 5
Technically I was a registered paramedic, fresh out of university, and waiting on a job offer from a state ambulance service (to all the grads out there waiting months on end for a slither of hope, I feel your pain). So, when the opportunity arose for me to hop on a plane once again to a country I never thought I would get to go to, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I didn’t know a lot about Samoa before I left for my last minute, impulsive adventure, but what I did know was the following; prehospital healthcare was in its infancy in that part of the world, there would be coconuts, there would be beaches and there would be an opportunity to work in the ambulance. Good enough for me. Here are five reasons why you should make the same impulsive adventure to Samoa if you’re a registered paramedic (graduate or otherwise):
1. Your involvement makes a difference.
Until a few years ago, the role of the ambulance in Samoa was to provide private interhospital transfers. Alas, Samoa is attempting to keep up with current best practice displayed in places like Australia, where the role of ambulance has dual roles involving provision of emergency health care as well as effective and safe transport to definitive care. But, a change such as this takes time, money and the right people. Through Planet Medic my team and I were able to inject money and medical donations to the ambulance staff in Samoa. We were able to see first-hand where our money and donations were being used. For instance, things as trivial as stretcher linen and splints were, at the time I visited, a rare to come by piece of equipment. Simply your involvement creates opportunity to impact.
2. Samoan EMTs are keen to develop
With a population of approximately 40,000, Apia, Samoa’s main island isn’t always going to make ambulance staff run off their feet. Luckily, there is some down time. And, depending on where you’re based that day, you could be chilling on a world class beach resort. Or, if you aren’t, you will likely get to chill out with the local EMTs. While the training requirements have come a long way in recent years, SFESA management were thrilled when our team could run through a BLS lesson on airway management or haemorrhage control. Teaching Samoan EMTs and Fire Rescue members first aid and BLS is a bit different to teaching at home. For starters, everyone is actually paying attention!
3. Break your boring routine.
Do you know how many times I giggled while sitting on a beach somewhere next to the ambulance knowing that my friends were at home twiddling their thumbs? Neither do I. But it was more than twice. Switch up your everyday routine in Australia for palm trees and friendly Samoan faces. I can honestly say that everyone I met in Samoa, from the street to the ambulance, welcomed me with a grin and a handshake. In the weeks I was there I made friends for life. On our first day, SFESA greeted us with the warmest hospitality and respect, so much so that it dissolved all our nerves about our awaiting challenges.
4. Get experience, Samoan style.
Depending on the length of your trip, you could earn hours of CPD for registration upkeep. So, if you can’t get through another unbelievably convoluted journal article on ‘the efficacy of a-drug-you’ll-probably-never-have-to-use’, go to Samoa and work with the SFESA EMTs with Planet Medic. You get access to reflections and online courses.
5. If the above is not enough to convince you, then there are beaches and coconuts. Trust me.