Lisa Don Francesco works in the North West Ambulance Service Patient Transport Services team and has recently completed the Understanding Project Management course on the GMCA Blue Light Academy programme. Lisa used the course to not only further her understanding of her role, but also to put together an idea for improving the systems she works with.  

Lisa has had a fascinating and varied life, with her journey to working in the emergency services not a common one. She explained: “I spent ten years working at the NME Awards and I was friends with the organiser, so I had fantastic access to the bands that would appear. I’ve looked after acts like Dave Grohl, The Cure, Johnny Marr and Jarvis Cocker! I then started my own music management company, until unfortunately Covid came along. I took a temporary job on the emergency lines initially, before I moved over to Patient Transport Services.”

She then described her current responsibilities: “I plan and control vehicles for patient appointments, essentially helping anyone who can’t get to the hospital under their own steam. Things change all the time like staff members being off sick, so you have to make a lot of adjustments at the last minute. It’s a juggling act!”

When Lisa first heard about the Blue Light Academy courses, she was unsure which one she wanted to do: “I wanted to do British Sign Language initially as I love learning new things, but in both my NWAS role and the work I still do in the music business, there were so many elements of Project Management that I was dealing with. So, when I saw the opportunity to do a course in that and gain a qualification, I decided that was the best one for me.”

Lisa explained what she gained from completing the course: “It gave me the structure and tools that I didn’t previously know existed. I was familiar with some of the content already but there were also entirely new techniques that I hadn’t come across before. And then I used my final project to develop an idea based on my experiences in my role.”

The idea that Lisa worked on is designed to improve the efficiency within her department and she outlined her suggestions: “Some days you would look and you’d have over 100 calls waiting, which is so frustrating both for us and the callers and a lot of the time its something that could be sorted online. My idea is two-fold: firstly, to get hospitals signed up to the online system that we use, which allows them to make appointments and update schedules instantly. My project involved getting someone to go into the hospitals to teach them how to use it. By doing this, you’re then freeing up the phonelines for only patients to use, which reduces both the waiting time and the strain on us as employees.”

NWAS are supporting Lisa’s project and she has a meeting booked in with senior management to discuss her idea and see if it could be put into action, showing how valuable the training courses can be as they are directly impacting the working lives of the learners and the efficiency of their organisations.

Finally, Lisa spoke about how she managed to complete the course alongside her work schedule and if she would recommend it to her colleagues: “You do have to be quite dedicated at times and make sure you complete the coursework, but my course tutor, Aviva, was fantastic and allowed me to be so flexible with deadlines. It’s also been so nice to have the support of both my colleagues and management, who provided a date for my final project. It’s great that it’s a real issue and plan to fix it, rather than being theoretical. I’d highly recommend it and I really enjoyed it, it’s just a shame I can’t do another course!”

To find out more about our Blue Light Academy courses or to get in touch with our team, click here. 

* Skills for Growth is funded through the European Social Fund and aims to plug the skills gaps in priority sectors across Greater Manchester as outlined in the Combined Authority’s Local Industrial Strategy.