What is Prime, and Should You Undertake the Training?

Posted about 1 year ago by Ochre Recruitment

What is Prime, and Should You Undertake the Training?

At Ochre Recruitment, we believe that everybody in New Zealand should receive the same level of care, no matter where they are in the country. For the most part, this is precisely what they get – New Zealand is a nation of highly-skilled, experienced health professionals working the length and breadth of the country, keeping the population fit and well. However, despite some of the miracles both permanent and locum doctors living in New Zealand perform, one thing that they can't do is be everywhere at once, meaning that some patients in rural areas may not be getting seen to as quickly as they may in urban sprawls. So, how can we ensure that people in even the most far-flung of New Zealand locations can receive the best in emergency care?


What is PRIME? Simply put, PRIME (Primary Response in Medical Emergencies) is a scheme that was created by the Ministry of Health, ACC and St John New Zealand. It's designed to provide the best possible access to pre-hospital emergency treatment in locations where there is a distinct shortage of Advanced Life Saving (ALS) paramedics. The service is provided by GPs and practice nurses that have undertaken a special training program. These PRIME providers lend a helping hand to the ambulance services, and are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The whole idea behind the PRIME service is to deliver support in areas where the response time is a little higher than in urban areas of the country, as well as providing additional skills to the existing team.

The service is provided by GPs and practice nurses that have undertaken a special training program.

How does the PRIME service work?

Operating and ensuring that the PRIME service runs smoothly is actually easier than you might think. A PRIME practitioner will carry a pager with them, which is controlled by the Clinical Control Centre Team when a medical emergency occurs. When the pager goes off, the PRIME responder will get to the scene of the emergency as quickly as possible to provide care and medical assistance before the ambulance can arrive. The local roster is organised so that there will always be someone available to help, no matter the time of day or night. Additionally, all PRIME practitioners are equipped with a PRIME medical kit, meaning that they'll have the necessary tools to hand for almost any scenario. 

Training to be perfect

To become a PRIME practitioner in New Zealand, candidates are required to complete the official training course. Once this course is finished, PRIME practitioners must update their skills every two years to refresh their knowledge and improve their skills with regards to trauma and other medical emergencies. Both the original training course and the refresher programmes are provided by St John.

What is Prime, and Should You Undertake the Training?

What are the ultimate objectives of the PRIME service?

Simply put, the PRIME initiative has been put in place to give ambulance services in rural areas a little support when it comes to reaching those that are badly in need of care, such as the very ill or the seriously injured, out in 'the wops'. Therefore, people in such remote communities will not be denied excellent initial care that those in cities may get, should a PRIME practitioner reside there.

In many rural locations across New Zealand, PRIME training is now a compulsory requirement for both permanent and locum doctors, giving medical professionals that choose to move to these areas a chance to improve their skillsets further. The coordinated response that PRIME provides, along with the extra level of emergency care that patients receive, is markedly improving the chances of people that require immediate help – good news all around.

Be sure to contact the team at Ochre Recruitment to find out more about the PRIME initiative and how we can place both permanent and locum doctors in New Zealand – we look forward to hearing from you.