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February 11, 2011

Global learning

JIBC School of Health Sciences helps build the ambulance service of Hong Kong’s future

By Valder Belgrave

In Hong Kong, one of the world’s most densely populated cities, residents can depend on the Hong Kong Ambulance Command to provide both immediate treatment and transfer to a hospital. The region’s ambulance services didn’t always provide this range of care. When the JIBC School of Health Sciences’ Paramedic Academy established its first international partnership with the Hong Kong Fire Services’ Ambulance Command, the focus of the ambulance service was providing patient transportation to the nearest hospital for emergency care.

Today, the Ambulance Command is recognized in Southeast Asia as leaders in the full spectrum of emergency medical services. In collaboration with JIBC, Hong Kong Ambulance Command’s 2,550 paramedics (referred to locally as ambulance officers and ambulancemen) are trained in a range of protocols that reflect the most common calls. Its fleet of ambulances and emergency medical assistant motorcycles is fully equipped with automated defibrillators and selected drugs for conditions such as diabetes, shock, heart attack, shortness of breath, seizures and drug overdoses.

While the Ambulance Command now does the majority of their own in-house training, their instructors and many of their staff are still trained and accredited through their partnership with JIBC. To date, more than 1,000 ambulance officers have received training in basic and advanced resuscitation techniques using SOHS Paramedic Academy emergency medical curriculum. 

Tony Liu and Phillip Tam are the two most recent Hong Kong paramedics and instructors who have upgraded their knowledge and practical skills at the JIBC New Westminster campus. They are the new face and future of the Hong Kong Ambulance Command.

Asked about the lessons learned during his time at JIBC, without hesitation Liu says: “Treat the patient, not what you see on the monitor.” It’s part of the critical learning that has prepared them for the important transfer of knowledge to paramedic students back in Hong Kong.

Reflecting on how the time spent at JIBC improved their understanding and practice of paramedicine, Tam notes that the experience provided benefits at two levels: the hands-on learning and new knowledge has enhanced his performance as a paramedic and expanded his horizons as an instructor. “This experience has provided practical examples of what we can do to improve our performance, both in the field and in the classroom.”

The Paramedic Academy’s history of partnership and collaboration with emergency medical services systems and organizations, like Hong Kong Ambulance Command and more recently the Singapore Armed Forces, has resulted in substantial improvement in the scope and quality of emergency medical services provided in these jurisdictions. Services provided to these clients include needs analysis, curriculum development, faculty development and program evaluation.

In 2004, the Hong Kong Ambulance Command received 574,901 calls. The Ambulance Command committed in 2005 to upgrading the quality of ambulance service to the public and improving the survival rate of critical patients. By 2009, the department received 659,289 calls – a daily average of 1,806. Thanks in part to the relationship with the JIBC and transfer of knowledge and expertise that has occurred over the years, the Ambulance Command is better prepared to manage the growing volume of calls and treat more complex cases.

Tam and Liu, who have a combined 18 years of experience, celebrated the completion of their studies at JIBC as a new beginning. Filled with new knowledge and great enthusiasm, they’re looking ahead to opportunities to apply their learning and shape the future of the Ambulance Command. Liu says about his experience at the JIBC School of Health Sciences: "I’d like to be able to sit down with my seven-year old and perhaps one day, my grandchildren, and share with them the experience that few others have enjoyed."

The JIBC School of Health Sciences offers a variety of opportunities for lifelong learning - locally, nationally and internationally. To meet the unique needs of our clients, we work in partnership to assess, design, develop and deliver innovative and effective educational solutions. For information on how we can assist you with your training needs, see the International Education page and email SOHS.

Tags: international, School of Health Sciences, SOHS

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Last updated October 6, 2014