Meet the Crew: Claire

Our team of dispatch assistants (DA) are constantly monitoring the 999 emergency calls that come into the control centre. Alongside our helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) paramedics, they establish whether the patient is in need of our advanced, life-saving skills.

We caught up with one of our newest DA’s, Claire, to see how she’s getting on.

How did you get into becoming a dispatch assistant?

I worked for the ambulance service as an emergency call handler for 12 years. During my time there, I gained vast experience in how to speak to people in a calm manner whilst trying to give them life-saving information. I love the adrenaline and, at the same time, knowing I’m giving the patient the best possible outcome.

I felt the time had come where I needed to boraden my horizons, bite the bullet and learn something new. It’s not so common to see a HEMS job become available, so when it did, I decided to take the opportunity. And here I am!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really enjoy speaking to the crew and discussing the current mission with the paramedic who is working on the desk with me. I have a thirst for clinical knowledge, and I’m constantly learning. It’s also great learning the different aspects of the charity being a part of it helping to save more lives.

In September I was given the opportunity to attend a simulation – scenarios that reflect the wide range of work we do to care for our critically ill and injured patients – as part of a clinical governance day at our Airbase. It was incredible to see the team’s specialist skills in action – I was in complete awe of them.

How does your role here compare to your years as an emergency call handler?

They’re extremely different. Before, I was talking to members of the public, giving information, reassuring them and following a script to ensure we reached the best possible outcome for the patient.

Here, however, I am liaising with the clinical crew and making critical decisions, alongside the paramedic, as to whether we feel the patient will benefit from treatment from our team.
Although the roles differ somewhat, our aim as a service is the same: we strive to achieve the best for our patients.

What obstacles have you overcome to be here today?

I have had to combat a number of health issues since I was 17. I was diagnosed with MS at 17, and six months after my son, Freddie, was born, I was diagnosed with Still’s disease. This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. Little Freddie was only six months old, and I was stuck in a hospital bed for three weeks whilst the doctors tried to find out what the problem was.

My pain was all over-my joints and organs, causing inflammation throughout my body. Just to move my wrist slightly upwards was agony. I was very nearly moved into ICU when I was struggling to swallow. Without the support of my amazing family, I don’t know how I would’ve come out as strong as I did. It was a very long recovery, but here I am.

How has that changed your outlook on life?

I very much have the mentality of live every day as if it’s your last, and I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am today. Moaning doesn’t get you anywhere, so I just carry on with a big fat smile.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

I have high hopes to go to university to become a paramedic in 2023. So I am starting an access to Higher education diploma in Paramedicine this year. This is something I have always wanted to do. What better time than when I have a paramedic sat right next to me to help me along the way.

“I feel honoured to be working for such a passionate team, and I am overwhelmed by the public’s generosity to keep this amazing charity going and enable us to continue to provide a life-saving service for the people in our communities.”