What is it like working as an air ambulance paramedic on Christmas Day?

For most people, Christmas day is a time to relax and celebrate with friends and family while consuming copious amounts of turkey and stuffing. Unfortunately for some, it means another day on the job.

One person giving up their Christmas day this year is our paramedic Marcus Johnson. We asked Marcus what it was like working for GNAAS on Christmas day.

GNAAS paramedic Marcus Johnson
GNAAS paramedic Marcus Johnson holding a Christmas cake donated last year.
What is a Christmas shift like?

Christmas Day starts like any other.

First, we prepare the aircraft, equipment and air desk, doing our standard checks so we are ready and safe to fly.  The next task is to complete a daily brief- this informs us of any weather considerations (Like snow? Yeah, right!) or any other aviation considerations – like overweight men flying around the skies, dressed in red and loaded up on mince pies and sherry (not the crew hopefully!).

The rest of the day is the normal waiting game where we monitor calls coming into the ambulance call centre and look for jobs suitable for the critical care team.

Although we treat the shift as a regular day, as a team we try to keep our Christmas spirit up by organising a buffet or special breakfast, and we sometimes have visitors from friends and family.

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Why is it important that we have a critical care team on shift?

Generally, Christmas day is quiet for us, which is good as it shows people are safe and enjoying their day with family.

Despite that, it is still vital that our team are on shift and ready in case anything happens. We believe that if someone is seriously injured or ill on this day, they should receive the same level of care as they would any other day. We are passionate about being there for our patients.

What is it like working on Christmas day?

Working Christmas Day can be difficult.

I have two young children who will not have their dad to play games with on Christmas morning. I will miss my Christmas lunch and spending quality time with family and friends. However, it is part of our job and we realise that people need our help so we make the sacrifice. It is a small price to pay for someone’s health and wellbeing.

This year I have told my boys they have to get up earlier this year so I can see them open their presents before I go to work. They are not complaining too much about this! I will also have my Christmas much later with my family once home from work.

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