Patrick Vassallo
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Patrick Vassallo

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What is your name and what is your

official designation within the Ministry for Health

My name is Patrick Vassallo & my official designation is that of an Emergency Ambulance Responder (EAR) within Mater Dei hospital

Where do you work and what do your duties entail?

​The section I work in is the Emergency Department. My duties are aimed at delivering the first medical response to the patient via the national ambulance system. The EAR assists the patient not only through the emergency vehicle driving, but also by assisting the patients, the nurse or other medical personnel during that particular call, as deemed necessary. The ambulance call-out system has three levels of priority, which are referred to as codes:


A) Blue- This call sign of emergency necessities two EARs but the patient’s needs do not require the use of nursing skills.

B) Orange- This emergency call requires two EARs and the support of a nurse.

C) Red – Similar to Orange code but time critical, thus being the most urgent.

In all mentioned instances one of the EARs on duty safely drives the emergency vehicle whilst the other assists the patient / nurse as necessary. The service delivered always aims to provide the patient with the best care possible. When one acts as the driver it is preliminary that he/she focuses, in order to ensure that the patient (and all other persons in the vehicle) are driven to hospital safely and in shortest time possible depending on the urgency.

Recently a new system using a “Rapid Response Vehicle” has been introduced. This vehicle carries all the necessary equipment needed for on-site assessment, but is quicker to respond. This vehicle is manned by a team of one EAR and one nurse. It does not carry the patient to hospital but takes the team on site to assess the patient and deliver the first clinical management on site. When the ambulance arrives on location (manned by two EARs), the nurse may accompany the patient in the ambulance as deemed necessary.


For how long have you been working with the Public Service?

This is my seventh year working within the public sector.​

Are there any specific qualifications required for your post? 

Yes, back when I applied, I needed the following;

A) Driving License B, C1 with 2 years’ experience

B) Basic Life Support Course

C) First Aid Course

D) Fluency in Maltese and English languages

E) Upon appointment we needed to read for a course and training equivalent to MQF level 3

What attracted you to take up your profession and to the health service?

My career aspirations were always to work in a field where I can be of service to others.

What motivates you most?

This career gives me personal satisfaction, I believe that to persuade such a career path you need to be dedicated. At the end of the day, you know that your hard day’s work helped numerous patients and contributed to decrease morbidity and mortality.

Can you give us one challenge and one success story?

This career is a challenge in itself from one aspect when assigned the role of the driver you have to ascertain that the patient is driven to hospital safe and at the shortest time possible. On the other hand, when you are the one that is responsible in assisting the patient, you have to do your utmost so that the patient arrives at the hospital in the best health possible and has been given all the required care. One of the latest big challenges was the covid 19 pandemic itself. This led to numerous restrictions even between the staff itself. To date challenges in this regard are still being faced.

This carrier doesn’t bring about challenges only but has also its successful stories. Overall, at the end of each day you are left with that feeling that you successful contributed in saving multiple lives.

Personally, I can recall one particular story, where together with a colleague of mine we had a call that according to the information given by the caller, the patient in question required a blue code ambulance (no nurse would assist us). On our way back to the hospital the patient had a cardiac arrest, CPR had to be applied whilst driving in rush hour. Through our training we managed to offer the required support. We made it to hospital, after a few days the patient was dismissed and the relatives thanked us for saving his life, for me such stories motivate me to give it my all

What about the teamwork between different professions/roles involved in relation to patient care?

Team work is vital to this career not only internally but also with other departments such as the Civil Protection and the Police Force. The Civil Protection help us with man power and in instances where the patients and our lives are at risk, the Police Force assist with man power, crowd control and traffic management. Thanks to this teamwork the patient is always given the best cure and treatment possible

 What advice would you give to young students considering taking up this profession?

If anyone out there is dedicated and ready to give oneself to help others than this is the right job for you. If this is not your priority and you simple want to work within the public sector than you should opt at giving this career a miss.

What are the benefits of working with the public service?

Amongst a number of benefits, personally I put my mind at rest regarding job stability. This was proven during the covid period, I was never worried that I will be one of those risking in becoming unemployed. The public service gives you the ability to progress in your career and offers the required training and learning opportunities (if you are willing too).