Women of GNAAS – Sarah Graham

To mark International Women’s Day, paramedic Sarah Graham talks about how she became interested in emegency care and the importance of teamwork.

Sarah Graham, from Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, joined the Great North Air Ambulance Service in 2016.

What made you choose a career as a paramedic?

I’ve always been interested in it, and the more I experienced the more I wanted to do. I started off in outdoors education and dealt with a couple of big incidents with casualties, and I got a buzz from the challenge and the teamwork. I was also doing a lot of yacht racing; being on a boat and having medical skills made a lot of sense, so I thought I would add another string to my bow.

I’ve always had an interest in flying, so once I got involved with the ambulance service, I wanted to join HEMS.

When you attend an incident, it’s awful, to think people’s worlds are falling apart around them, but you can do some good in a horrible situation. The team are like spokes in a wheel, and all the services, fire, police, ambulance, all working together is really satisfying. Especially when you see something good happen and the patient is ok at the end of it.

What else do you love about your job?

All of it! The camaraderie, the challenge. You’re always dynamic, always thinking of different solutions. It’s amazing when it all comes together.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in your career?

I’m honoured to work for GNAAS. I often have to pinch myself! It truly is a privilege.

Are there any that stand out as particularly memorable at work?

There have been quite a few memorable days! There’s loads. We’ve just come back from a job, it wasn’t a big job, but there was a man stuck in a field with an injured knee and we gave him some pain relief and he was just really happy. They are all memorable in their own way.

Do you think the landscape has changed or is changing for women looking to enter pre-hospital care?

Definitely. It’s a male-orientated environment, but you put that to one side. You look out for your colleagues and they look out for you. You are part of that team.

Now more and more women are becoming aware that it’s a career option. People have more confidence and self-esteem, and the role is fair game for everyone.

Do you think there are any hurdles that might prevent women from applying for a role in medicine or emergency care?

I think there are perceived hurdles. People’s attitudes towards women are changing. There is more acceptance of diversity and equality.

To work in the role you need to have broad shoulders, not be easily offended and take a light-hearted approach, regardless of gender.

Any advice for people seeking a career in PHEM?

Do it! Go for it. It is the best job ever. Seriously, put in the work and just go for it. For me, it’s the best job in the world.

International Women’s Day takes place annually on the 8th March. Join in the conversation using #FEMinPHEM.

For more information about pre-hospital training offered by GNAAS, visit the training section of our website.

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