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“My 5 best memories of working on the front line…”

I joined the Ambulance Service at the age of 22; I always knew I wanted to work with people, and my sister (Jane Lambert who I now work with!) was working as a nurse and our Dad had been a Police Officer, so the Ambulance Service seemed a perfect fit!

Being a Paramedic is an incredibly rewarding job and one that I loved. I have so many memories from lives that were saved, lives that were sadly lost and bringing new life into this world, being a Paramedic, you really are a jack of all trades and never know what your next job will bring!

1) Driving – Thinking back to the role when I first started, I absolutely hated driving, I was nervous behind the wheel and I quickly realised that this was a massive part of the job (somehow I’d managed to block this fact whilst applying for the role!) It didn’t take long before I loved driving and I still do! You never really lose that feeling when you are moving through the traffic and positioning your vehicle so that the other road users know exactly where you want them to go. Admittedly it was frustrating at times though when not everyone quite realised what I wanted them to do! One of my most memorable moments was racing through central London transferring a young girl to Great Ormond Street where she was about to have a heart transplant. Navigating through unfamiliar busy London streets with the pressure that we had to arrive before the heart did to make sure the surgery could go ahead, all whilst keeping the little girl and family as calm and reassured as possible, took pretty much every ounce of determination that I could muster.

2) Privilege – When most people call 999, it is the most traumatic and frightening moment of their lives and being invited into their home at that time is the most hugely privileged feeling. When you arrive at the door, you can hear and see the relief on their faces as they put complete trust in you. It’s such a responsibility to be the answer to their prayers and I was always incredibly conscious of feeling such privilege to be the one to help my patient and family in their most vulnerable moments.

3) Teamwork – Wow, this one I can’t stress enough. When you have worked with your colleague for several years and you can just look at each other when you walk into a patient’s house and know instantly what each of you is about to do, that brings an incredible bond. You often spend more time with your colleagues than your family so relying on each other is so important. Another job I remember so vividly was an incredibly traumatic road traffic collision where my patient sustained very serious injuries. I remember really needing a cup of tea after that job, but our ambulance was covered in blood and needed fully restocking after I had used almost every bandage, dressing, oxygen mask, cannula, fluids and drugs that I had available. Control were calling as they had patients waiting and they needed us back out but I needed to process what had happened. I parked up in the ambulance station, my boss made me a cup of tea and told me to sit in the crew room whilst he washed and restocked my ambulance for me. It was exactly what I needed, I recharged and off I went to the next call.

4) The NHS and Emergency Services – Being in the Ambulance Service brings a real sense of belonging. The NHS is such a special place to work, there is such dedication from the staff and everyone always has the same focus … the patient. Being part of the Emergency Services brings that too; a brilliant relationship with the Police and Fire Service who we work with so closely. I remember being rescued several times by our local Police Officers when we had found ourselves in a spot of bother by a less than grateful patient or member of the public and I am still in touch with some of them now.

5) Patients – Ultimately the reason I became a Paramedic and the reason I still do what I do now is because of the patients. I care about people, I want to make their lives just a little bit easier in their time of need. I loved being able to give the highest level of clinical care to my patients when they were critically ill. I loved being able to hold someone’s hand and have a chat about the good old days, because you can see they’re lonely. I loved checking up on my patients a few hours or days later to see how they were getting on. I loved being on the end of the phone when I worked for the Out of Hours GP service talking to a family who had just lost their daughter and the press were camping outside their house trying to find a way forward for them. I just loved helping and I still do, because every patient is someone’s Mother, Father, Husband or Wife. The NHS is full of amazing people and I am hugely proud to have been part of that.

Written by Sophie McCracken (ECG, Clinical Development Manager), Thursday 20th February 2020

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