How our team cope with difficult incidents

“We treat every single patient as though they were our mam, grandad, or friend.”

GNAAS paramedics John Kirton and Hollie Smith featured heavily on last night’s hard-hitting episode of BBC’s ‘Ambulance’.

Hollie and John opened up to Holly Taylor after the episode aired about the effect that difficult jobs can often have on them.

Here’s what they said:

John: When we’re tasked to an incident, we don’t really have time to process what it is we’re going to be dealing with, whether it be a child, self-harm, or anything else – the processing often comes after. All you’re thinking about is what interventions that patient may need, and you’re mentally preparing for that.

Hollie: First and foremost, we’re thinking about how we will get to the job and assist the pilot with landing and staying in touch with control across the radio.

John: At GNAAS, we only fly to category one & two incidents, this means that no matter what the incident type, it’s going to be hard-hitting – so really, you have to emotionally detach yourself from this before you even start working with the charity.

Hollie: We’re only human, but yes, being able to not get emotionally involved in any incident is the key to not letting it affect you. Don’t get me wrong, there have, of course, been jobs in the past that you remember more than others, but the key is to not take your work home with you – you have to leave it at the door.

John: It doesn’t matter who we fly to; we treat each and every patient as though they are a family member. Being a dad myself, the jobs I go to involving young children are never easy – but it’s just about putting that to one side and doing the best we can for the patient.

Hollie: Definitely. We treat every patient as if they were our mam, grandad, or friend. I think it’s really important that after you have been to a difficult incident, you come back to base and take that time to debrief with the crew. It really can make all the difference.

John: Yes, I agree. Even just going over what we think we did well and if anything could have gone better. We’re all like one big family here; having each other’s backs and supporting each other is vital in the job we do.

Hollie: A big part of being able to deal with difficult situations in our work is by destressing outside of the job, by doing the things we love.

John: Yes, exercising, walking the dog, spending time with my kids and socialising all help me to unwind after a hard shift. I wouldn’t say the difficult jobs even get easier, you just learn how to deal with them.

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