Chris Kirkbride, aged 37, joined NEAS in July 2015 after leaving the British Army. Since filming with Ambulance, Chris has been promoted to a clinical team leader role. Now based at Pallion, he still supports patients but is also responsible for supporting our frontline ambulance crews as well as providing operational advice to dispatch colleagues.
He has been married to his wife Rachel for eight years, and together they have three children, Thomas, Chloe and Grace. When he’s not at work, you’ll find Chris camping with his family or keeping fit by weight lifting.
Q. What attracted you to the job?
A. Transferrable skills and working in an environment like the military with the same/similar amount of job satisfaction and like-minded people, being able to give back to my local area after working overseas for many years and helping people abroad
Q. What brings you to work every day/what do you like about your job?
A. The patients and the team of paramedics and clinical care assistants that I look after bring me to work every day, providing them with the right care that they need, making sure that every day I have an impact on people’s lives in a positive way. I love the variety of the role and not knowing what you’re going to be dealing with patient to patient, it keeps you thinking, keeps you on your toes and keeps you motivated.
Q. What is an average shift like?
A. As a team leader, I respond to incidents where operational command presence is needed or clinical advice and support is needed by my team. It can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster at times but all of our staff look after each other and always manage to find the funny side to lighten the mood.
Q. What skills do you think people need to be able to do your job?
A. They need to be proactive, robust and determined as well as having a softer side to be able to adapt to all types of patients and incidents, you need to be caring and empathetic.
Q. It can be a traumatic job at times, how do you look after yourself and what support do you get from the trust?
A. I make sure that I speak to my wife if I have had a bad job or particularly bad day. I make sure that I speak to my friends and colleagues and share with like-minded people who've had similar experiences which makes it easier to deal with and reflect upon. We have ex-forces groups, mental health wellbeing support groups and breakfast clubs to be able to get support if its needed. We can also use TRIM and Occupational Health if needed.
Q. What has it been like working through the pandemic?
A. It’s been a challenge and to be honest we are still working through it and recovering from it. Although COVID numbers may have dropped, demand is at an all-time high and pressures on the service mean patients are waiting for ambulances for longer. It’s been a huge challenge working in PPE, especially the masks visors and suits.
Q. Where do you see your career heading?
Since filming I have been promoted to clinical team leader a role, which I am really enjoying. Although I do miss some of my regulars from Newcastle area, I would like to keep developing as a paramedic and leader within NEAS and continue to work for the Trust for many years to come.
Q. How do you feel about being part of the BBC Ambulance show?
It’s been different and not something I have done before. I would have hated to not be involved, it marks such a significant point in history for the NHS and shows the pressures we are under. It’s nice to show the public what an amazing job we do day in day out. I found the crews really easy to work with and when they were out with us you don’t even realise they are there filming. I would do it again if they return to the North East.
Q. What impact do you hope the series will have in the North East?
A. I hope it show cases the amazing work we do for our patients and hopefully shows the North East in a good light and that it’s not just Geordie Shore pub crawls. I hope it highlights some of the social issues the North East is facing and the impact social issues is having on the NHS.
Q. What do you love about the North East?
The best thing about the North East is "it’s home". I remember travelling home from being overseas with the Army and seeing the Angel of the North and then coming over the Tyne Bridge and getting that warm fuzzy feeling knowing that I was home and could now relax. It’s an amazing place to live – we have the city life and also the countryside/coastal life whenever we want it. We have some amazing places to see. I think we are very lucky.