Flying colours for flying paramedics


The three new recruits to the region’s air ambulance team have passed their final examinations to become fully-fledged aircrew paramedics. Marcus Johnson, Sarah Graham and Tim West have completed a rigorous six month training programme to prepare them for life on board the aircraft of the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS).  The trio, all experienced former ambulance service paramedics, have taken additional training to allow them to become skilled at the advanced techniques deployed by the charity’s airborne trauma team. Marcus, 34, said they had all now finished their pre-hospital anaesthesia and pre-hospital crew courses, which give paramedics the aviation skills required to work alongside the pilot as well as the additional medical techniques. The training gave them exposure to traumatic and medical scenarios, major incidents, air desk management, aircraft safety, navigation and surgical skills.

The three new recruits to the region’s air ambulance team have passed their final examinations to become fully-fledged aircrew paramedics.

Marcus Johnson, Sarah Graham and Tim West have completed a rigorous six month training programme to prepare them for life on board the aircraft of the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS). 

The trio, all experienced former ambulance service paramedics, have taken additional training to allow them to become skilled at the advanced techniques deployed by the charity’s airborne trauma team.

Marcus, 34, said they had all now finished their pre-hospital anaesthesia and pre-hospital crew courses, which give paramedics the aviation skills required to work alongside the pilot as well as the additional medical techniques.

The training gave them exposure to traumatic and medical scenarios, major incidents, air desk management, aircraft safety, navigation and surgical skills. Many of these were delivered in high-pressure, realistic scenarios to best prepare them for their new roles.

They have also been racking up hours of active observation alongside qualified aircrew paramedics throughout their six months.

“It’s been very challenging,” Marcus added. “But we’ve all embraced it. We are expected to help administer very advanced care under stressful conditions, so we have had to get used to working under pressure.

“We’ve enjoyed it at the same time. It’s what we’ve been working towards during our careers – getting to be a part of this team, gaining new experiences and skills, and then putting them to use across our area. I’m proud to have reached this point and I’m now looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

Alongside his everyday work on the aircraft, Marcus, a father-of-two from Spennymoor, County Durham, will specialise in delivering training.

Sarah, 39, from Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, will take on responsibilities in operations, while Tim, a 33-year-old father-of-two from Great Ayton, will develop the clinical function of the charity. 

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