While many of us enjoy Christmas festivities with family and friends, the frontline staff of the Wales Air Ambulance will be spending their day providing essential services. For them, Christmas is a “normal day” at work, infused with extra festive spirit and camaraderie.
The crew is ready to assist those in need across Wales, striving to turn what might be the worst day for someone into a better outcome. The Wales Air Ambulance, an all-Wales Charity, requires £11.2 million annually to maintain its helicopters and rapid response vehicles, ensuring 24/7 coverage, even on Christmas Day.
The service operates through a unique partnership between the Third Sector and Public Sector, with the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) providing highly skilled NHS consultants and critical care practitioners working on the Charity’s vehicles.
We’ve spoken to some of the Christmas heroes from the Wales Air Ambulance, stationed in Cardiff, Caernarfon, Welshpool, and Dafen, to learn about their experiences working for the Charity during the holiday season. Here are their stories:
Carl Hudson – Critical Care Paramedic/Practitioner (Working: Caernarfon):
With 30 years of frontline NHS service, including over 20 years with the Wales Air Ambulance, Carl reflects on the accepted reality of working Christmas Day. Despite the challenges, the camaraderie among colleagues and the effort to make the day special with small gifts and shared meals contribute to a positive atmosphere. Carl emphasizes the importance of providing the best care possible, even on Christmas Day.
Corey Mead – Critical Care Practitioner (Working: Critical Care Hub in Ambulance Control in Cwmbran):
Having joined the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service two years ago, Corey, a Critical Care Practitioner, discusses his first Christmas with the Wales Air Ambulance. Despite the busy nature of the job, Corey volunteers to work on Christmas Day, considering his colleagues’ family commitments. He acknowledges the challenges of working irregular hours but emphasizes the rewarding aspect of potentially saving lives.
Simon Cartwright – Critical Care Practitioner (Working: Welshpool):
Simon, a Critical Care Practitioner, shares his experience working at the Wales Air Ambulance’s Welshpool base during his first Christmas with the team. While ensuring they are prepared for any dispatches, the team adds festive touches, such as a Christmas tree and a ‘Secret Santa.’ Simon appreciates the supportive and close-knit team environment, emphasizing the privilege of being there to help someone in their time of need.
Rhyan Curtin – Critical Care Practitioner (Working: Cardiff):
Rhyan, a Critical Care Practitioner, describes his Christmas celebrations a day early with family before working on Christmas Day. Despite the serious nature of their job, he highlights the supportive “work family” environment, where camaraderie prevails. Rhyan acknowledges the somber moments during Christmas emergencies but remains focused on providing the best care possible.
Jez James – Clinician onboard Wales Air Ambulance (Working: Dafen, Llanelli):
With six years of experience in the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service, Jez, a clinician onboard Wales Air Ambulance, discusses working the night shift on Christmas Eve. Responsible for dispatching crews to critical jobs, Jez humorously mentions monitoring Santa’s sleigh to avoid conflicts with the helicopter. While acknowledging the sacrifices of missing family Christmas celebrations, Jez emphasizes the team’s support and the rewarding nature of their job.
These dedicated professionals exemplify the commitment and resilience of the Wales Air Ambulance staff, who prioritize service to the community, even during the Christmas season.