Prior to enrolling in the Master of Science by Research program at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet), Matt Rolph spent much of his career in the United Kingdom as a registered paramedic with a remarkable journey that spans across different continents and diverse medical settings. When his wife, Kerry Rolph, BVM&S CertVC PhD FANZCVS (FELINE CHAPTER) DIPECVIM-CA FRCVS, accepted her role as a professor of small animal medicine at Ross Vet, Matt’s desire to help others through his work and professional experience brought him to St. Kitts to give back his knowledge to the local paramedics caring for those in the community Ross Vet calls home.
EMS Reformation in St. Kitts
With a desire to make a difference in local emergency medical services, he was approached to assist in the reformation of local ambulance services by Al Pierre, MD, director of health services for Ross Vet. Rolph eagerly embraced the opportunity to develop a paramedic training program and lay the foundation for a sustainable EMS infrastructure on the island.
“Obviously, I jumped at the chance,” said Rolph. “This was precisely the role I had envisaged fulfilling when I first arrived on the island and so I accepted the opportunity. Endeavors like this have the ability to make a lasting impact not only on service delivery, but on those delivering the service – they feel greater value as their abilities grow; on those who are in need of that service – more competent, confident EMS personnel leads to better patient outcomes in the prehospital setting; on local health services as a whole – increased patient survival at the point of admittance can increase the rate of patient survival to discharge.”
Upon taking on this endeavor, Rolph’s goal started with developing a paramedic training program for members of St. Kitts EMS, as well as build a sustainable infrastructure around them so that they can successfully perform the roles required of a paramedic once training is complete. The first stage in this undertaking is to establish a baseline from which the 45 members of St. Kitts EMS can develop further. This was achieved through a series of five-day intensive workshops entitled The Fundamentals of prehospital emergency care (FPHEC), developed from programs like ones Rolph used to teach for remote and hostile environments in Southeast Asia.
From Diving Instructor to Emergency Medical Technician
In 2007, Rolph was training to become a SCUBA diving instructor. During this time, a life-altering event occurred when a friend suffered a serious accident. Witnessing the incident and realizing the lack of preparedness among himself and colleagues to handle such emergencies, he made a life-changing decision to learn how to provide proper medical care.
He initially sought training at the Diving Diseases Research Centre (DDRC) in Plymouth, UK, and became a Diver Medical Technician. Shortly after that, he found work with Sub-aquatic Safety Services Recompression Chamber Network, where he became the manager for one of their remote outposts in Thailand. He also spent time training Cape Town, South Africa, to study with Ronin Close Protection and Paramedical Services and the Philippines to study with Life Support Training International. Throughout these stops around the world, Rolph was also an enlisted combat medical technician with 335 Medical Evacuation Regiment, 2nd Brigade Royal Army Medical Corps, of the British Territorial Army.
In 2012, Rolph founded Emergency Medical Services International, aiming to provide prehospital emergency medical training specifically for professionals working in remote and hostile environments throughout Southeast Asia. This venture proved to be successful, as they provided training to diverse groups, including diving instructors, close protection personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq, and members of UXO Laos on behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Research for a Better Future
Alongside his professional pursuits, Rolph is engaged in an active research project for his MSc degree. The study, led by Drs. Sarah Cavanaugh and Pompei Bolfa, explores the potential role of intracellular bacteria in the development of chronic inflammatory conditions in cats, with implications for both veterinary and human medicine. The research aims to shed light on sparsely explored areas in feline medicine while considering possible zoonotic aspects of chronic inflammation. “It has the potential to open avenues for human medical research, addressing the significant threat posed by chronic inflammatory diseases worldwide,” shared Rolph.