Despite suffering with travel sickness and having a poor sense of direction and dislike of needles and blood, Alex Smart decided to swap her career as a graphic designer in Edinburgh for the ambulance service. She joined NEAS in 2007 and hasn’t looked back.
Now 47-years-old, Alex is one of our paramedics based at Coulby Newham station
Q. What brings you to work every day?
A. No two days are the same, you never know what you are going to from day to day.
Q. What skills do you think people need to be able to do your job?
A. You need to be able to talk and listen to people. Be open-minded, friendly, knowledgeable, reassuring and calm
Q. It can be a traumatic job at times, how do you look after yourself and what support do you get?
A. I reset by getting outside into the countryside. I love running alone and with friends, open water and pool swimming, riding my bike, and catching up with friends.
Q. What has it been like working through the pandemic?
A. It hasn't been the easiest. It was worst in the beginning when no one knew how they would be affected and we were limited to four masks a vehicle. If a patient was suspected to have Covid, as lead clinician I had to go in to the address alone to assess. I did lots of overtime, and felt very stressed due to work, Covid and my own health issues as I was diagnosed with skin cancer just before the first lockdown.
Q. Where do you see your career heading?
A. I will have been qualified as a paramedic for 10 years in October. I have tried management and realised it's not for me, I still really enjoy "being a green person" and have no plans to change that in the immediate future.
Q. How do you feel about being part of the BBC Ambulance show?
A. I was not interested in being part of the series at all but then my colleague Pete asked me to go on it with him as a retirement gift to him, and I couldn't say no to that! I was dreading it as I hate hearing myself speak or even getting my photo taken, but even by the end of the first day it was great fun and I am so glad I agreed to take part. I may feel differently when I have to see myself on the TV…
Q. What impact do you hope the series will have in the North East?
A. I hope it portrays us in a positive light as I believe the North East is often shown very negatively