IN a bid to ramp up the capacity of ambulance crews as the coronavirus crisis begins to take hold in Worcestershire, unqualified students will be asked to take the place of one of the paramedics or technicians in a double-crew.

And, as they can’t drive the ambulances, it worryingly opens up the possibility that students will face the responsibility of trying to help critically ill patients alone in the back of an ambulance. While qualified crew must take on the worrying task of making the toughest of decisions about what they should instruct them to do ‘in the best interests of their patients’.

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All that makes for sobering reading.

It goes without saying that both the students who have stepped up to this role and the existing ambulance crew deserve the highest of praise. When we are, hopefully, on the other side of this crisis we will owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

These are ‘unprecedented times’ as West Midlands Ambulance Service itself says. But that we find ourselves having to take these steps is beyond sad.