The region’s air ambulance has employed three new paramedics who will soon take to the skies.
The latest recruits at the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) will work from both of the charity’s operational bases at Durham Tees Valley Airport, near Darlington, and at Langwathby in Cumbria.
They will also take on shifts as part of the MERIT scheme, an all-night response unit operating in the North East on Friday and Saturday nights.
The trio have all previously worked at North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) respectively, for longer than a decade.
Marcus Johnson, 34, from Spennymoor, County Durham, was a former paramedic and mentor at NEAS.
The father-of-two said: “Here you can make a real difference as the air ambulance is called to the sickest and most in need patients. That is extremely rewarding.”
Tim West, 33, from, Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, is a former NEAS paramedic and has been a team member of Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team for 13 years.
The father-of-two said: “Each day is unique. Here, we are dealing with the patient group who have suffered a major trauma or are critically ill and can greatly improve their outcome.
“The camaraderie within the team is amazing. We are a real little family and the job satisfaction is immense.
“Of course flying and being able to see the region from the air is a perk of the job.
Sarah Graham, 39, from Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, was a HEMS paramedic with North West Air Ambulance for four years after her previous role within NWAS.
She said: “What really struck me was the ethos of all the staff at GNAAS who are constantly striving for new clinical developments and best practice.
“I relish in the knowledge and expertise and am looking forward to absorbing it all in. It is an honour and privilege to work within this team.
“It is the best job in the world.”
Andy Mawson, deputy director of operations at GNAAS, said: “Many of the applicants were of high calibre but these three candidates stood-out during a tough selection process and we are looking forward to the future going forward with them as part of the aircrew.”
GNAAS has to raise £4.5m every year to stay operational.