The Medical Director of Brain and Spine Surgery Limited, Dr Biodun Ogungbo, has bemoaned the absence of paramedics in many hospitals in Nigeria. He has therefore called on concerned authorities to see the need for them as an urgent one while stressing that the establishment of Emergency Medical Services in all the states of the federation to enhance and complement the efforts of the National Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Road Safety Corps.
The neurosurgeon also decried the state of many hospitals in Nigeria which he said have just ambulance drivers and always depend on other members of the healthcare team, especially nurses for emergency care.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Ogungbo described paramedics as trained healthcare professionals whose main role is to render advanced emergency medicare, especially to critical and emergency patients.
“There is an urgent need for paramedics and the establishment of EMS in all the states of the federation. They will facilitate and complement the work of NEMA and FRSC
“We need to rethink the strategies we have in saving Nigerian lives and develop the system to ensure that every life matters in Nigeria. The paramedics already trained are a much-needed manpower resource waiting to be deployed.
“There are also teeming numbers of unemployed youth in Nigeria begging to be employed. Many would gladly take up the positions that empower them to save lives”, he said.
“Can you imagine having trained paramedics helping in the transfer of critically ill patients from one hospital to another? Can you see the benefit of such especially during this period of a worldwide pandemic? Can you imagine having trained paramedics helping in the safe transfer of critically injured patients from our roads to hospitals? Would you not be happy to see a paramedic appear to help save the lives of your loved ones?”
Ogungbo added that paramedics were usually the first responders at the scene of any medical emergency, equipped with the necessary training and expertise to help forestall debility and death.
“They can drive ambulances but not all ambulance drivers are paramedics. This is important, especially in Nigeria. Many of our ambulance drivers are just drivers without any skills in life-saving techniques. Therein lie our shame and lack of understanding of the role of a paramedic.
“We do have paramedics in Nigeria, and I understand that the training takes place mostly at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. But there are also training centres in Delta, Ogun and Rivers States of Nigeria.
“The program was set up in 2008 and designed to churn out graduates every three years. In 2014, the Federal government increased the period of the paramedics training to five years. This starts with two years to obtain a National Diploma, a year of field internship and then another two years to obtain a Higher National Diploma. Nigeria just recently graduated the first set of HND paramedics (30 in number).
“Since its inception in 2008, UBTH has graduated about 130 paramedics. Unfortunately, most of them remain in the hospital working in the emergency room and involved in in-hospital patient transfer services.
“The paramedics triage patients, help with resuscitation procedures, move patients out for investigations, and when the need arises, go out to rescue people and get them to the hospital. However, they are underutilised as Edo State does not have an EMS”, he concluded.