Critical Care at Christmas

Support from people like you means we’re there for those who need us most. Day and night, 365 days a year – including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. We spoke to some of our crew who fit their Christmas around providing critical care, to find out what it’s like working on the frontline at Christmas.

One of those who will be working on Christmas Day is HEMS Paramedic Sophia Rozario, who has been flying with us since 2019.

A paramedic sat in a helicopter holding her flight helmet.

HEMS Paramedic Sophia

Sophia said, “We’re usually very busy around Christmas time. Sporting accidents are far fewer in number but, unfortunately, we do attend serious road traffic collisions, medical and self-harm incidents. It’s made me realise that Christmas can be a really tough time of year for some.”

Working over the Christmas period isn’t unusual for Sophia. And neither is having to fit her personal life around her or her family’s demanding work schedule.

“My mum is a nurse, so when I was a kid it was normal to have a belated Christmas Day,” said Sophia. “And my fiancé is also a paramedic, so as long as we get a couple of days over the festive period together, I don’t mind which day we celebrate.”

Our teams of doctors, paramedics and pilots are ready to bring the hospital to patients in need of urgent critical care – ready to give them the best chance of survival. They are alerted to emergency incidents by our team of dispatch assistants (DA) who scan and monitor calls that come into the 999 call centre.

This will be DA Scott Sheldon’s first Christmas working with us, but he’s previously worked three Christmas’ for South Central Ambulance Service.

Scott will be monitoring 999 calls, ready to deploy the team.

Scott said, “Working in the call centre at Christmas can be like a normal day with a steady flow of calls to review and monitor – people tend to be fairly jolly and keep each other smiling when there is chance to do so.

“My family all live in the Midlands so I swapped with another DA so they could spend time at home with their family.”

Dr Simon Hughes, who worked on Boxing Day last year, said, “If the phone or the radio goes, we try to get airborne in four minutes. So, if we are midway through a turkey sandwich or a Christmas pudding, you need to be able to put that down and run out the door extremely quickly.”

“Traditionally, we think of people sitting down to eat their lunch, drinking wine and relaxing but, sadly, horrible things can still happen.”

Sophia, along with the rest of the team, is very aware that we can only respond to the most critically ill and severely injured people in our region because of the kindness and support from people like you.

Sophia said: “It’s remarkable that our entire operation survives purely on people’s good will and generosity. It means we’re able to run a dispatch team and a Critical Care Team, who both work to help people during one of the worst days of their lives and provide the interventions they need as soon as they need it.

“A huge thank you to everyone who donates – and to those who come up and say kind words to the team when we are out and about, it’s very much appreciated.”

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