Every year Magpas Air Ambulance hosts two Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM) training courses for our new clinicians joining the charity.

Throughout this intensive two-week training period, they learn how to provide advanced medical care to patients outside of a hospital through a series of lectures, skills stations and a lot of practice simulations, before final assessments and supervised shifts.

Magpas Air Ambulance Doctor Lee Soomaroo is also the charity's clinical lead for training and development and heads up the course, which has taken place once again this August.

When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?

I didn’t always want to be a doctor. When I was 14 my mother was involved in a car accident and taken to the local Emergency Department. Watching the doctors at the time resuscitate her and enable her to survive was a true inspiration for me to start, and continue, on this fun and rewarding career path.

Lee Soomaroo

When and why did you join Magpas Air Ambulance?

I joined Magpas Air Ambulance in 2015. At the time I had recently returned home after working in aeromedical retrieval for CareFlight in Australia and was feeling a little lost in terms of what to do next with my career. Serendipity intervened and a flyer advertising PHEM training was posted on the noticeboard in the local hospital I was working at. I did some research and found that Magpas Air Ambulance was at the forefront of pre-hospital training and knew I had to join this fun, dynamic and respected organisation.

Recently, Magpas Air Ambulance created five clinical leadership roles for some of our most senior doctors to develop specific elements of the charities clinical offerings even more. When the clinical leadership roles came available, why did you go for the Clinical Lead for Training and Development?

Magpas Air Ambulance is a national leader of PHEM clinical training and has always been at the forefront of teaching, training and education. My background of extensive teaching and directing on Life Support Courses, as well as being a current affiliated assistant professor at the University of Cambridge has enabled me to not only continue this tradition but also drive education forward with new and alternative ways of teaching and training to enable our clinical team to be as prepared as they can be to face the ongoing challenges of pre-hospital care.


What does the Magpas Air Ambulance training course entail?

Simulation, simulation, simulation!

Our PreEMPT course (Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine Practical Training) sees the new recruits undertake an intensive seven-day training programme spread over two weeks. Starting with the basics of pre-hospital emergency anaesthesia, before incorporating further management of trauma and resuscitation in both adults and children.

The new clinicians are certainly put through their paces, and I know occasionally they won’t thank me for it at the time! Alongside lectures and equipment workshops, the only way to be truly prepared for all potential clinical outcomes is to continue to practice via simulation. This is where they practice on medical manakins, learning how to apply their medical knowledge to the high-pressure scenarios our team works in every day.

At the end of the course, the recruits are assessed in clinical simulations and skill stations.

A new element of training was introduced this year. Why did you decide to add night simulations into the programme?

Ah yes, the night simulation session!

Despite a large proportion of pre-hospital work tending to occur out of hours, it struck me that on all the previous courses I have attended, there wasn’t actually a session where simulation is undertaken at night, under the cover of true darkness… So I decided to create one.

The session took place from sunset to the early hours and aimed to increase the fidelity of the clinical simulations undertaken as well as demonstrate the physiological, emotional and mental stress the environment puts us under. It also exposed the new recruits to potentially difficult aspects of pre-hospital care—for example, it is a lot harder to find a vein in a hand with a head torch on than in daylight!

I was very nervous as this was the first time the charity had facilitated this type of training. But when the session came to an end (at 1 am!), I was both relieved and proud to hear the new recruits and faculty found it to be a real highlight of the course—it’s definitely something I’ll be bringing back next year!

Is there anything else that was new to the training course this year?

Yes! Magpas Air Ambulance has attended a number of obstetric cases (medical emergencies relating the childbirth) in the last few months, therefore incorporating further sessions on the management of emergency pregnancy and childbirth was an absolute necessity for me.

Something else that will enhance our training even more in the future is the dedicated clinical training suite which is being built at our new airbase in Alconbury Weald, which we’re due to move to this Autumn. This will give us the ability to create different clinical scenarios digitally, with the use of projections, temperature controls and more to further enhance the reality of the training simulations.

What is it about training that you enjoy most?

I have a personal mantra: ‘work hard, take responsibility, keep learning’. For me, if I can impart some knowledge in a fun and informative way, that allows those I train to go away, think, reflect and better themselves, then I hope I have done a good job for those trainees—and their future patients.