Dispatch officer Claire Gibson, aged 45, worked for BT and Telewest before joining NEAS 14 years ago within the dispatch team, where she splits her time between our Emergency Operations Centres in Newcastle and Hebburn. She’s from Gateshead originally but now lives in Teesside with her husband Mike, who also works for NEAS as a clinical care assistant, and between them they have five children and three grandchildren, with another grandchild on the way. Claire is recovering from cancer, and sadly lost her best friend Lesley to breast cancer earlier this year, but is carrying on Lesley’s legacy by raising money for defibrillators for the local community.
Q. What attracted you to the job?
A. I basically want to make a difference to the community and people around me. It's challenging at times, but I love every minute of my role helping people. I love making a difference.
Q. What brings you to work every day?
A. I love working with my colleagues in control and on the road. It's challenging at times but I’m passionate and love the job. I feel I’m making a difference by getting out of bed and going to work and helping people when they are in need. I’m proud to wear my greens and work for an amazing service.
Q. What is an average shift like?
A. I normally work a 12-hour shift between three and four days a week, which can either be day or night shifts depending on our rota. It's constantly busy and never stops. We can have some genuine poorly people out there which is a challenge at times, but we also can have some funny old stories to tell on the shift. We work on a team of 12 in dispatch and normally support each other throughout the shift and to be fair that's what really keeps me going at times. I really look forward to seeing my loved ones on my days off because this job really shows me how important my family and friends are.
Q. What skills do you think people need to be able to do your job?
A. You need to always be professional, a team player and able to work under pressure. You also need to be energetic and be able to communicate.
Q. It can be a traumatic job at times, how do you look after yourself and what support do you get?
A. NEAS has a great support system, and we always have people to talk to. The doors of Occupational Health are always open. but I find my colleagues are the best support and we are there for each other.
Q. What has it been like working through the pandemic?
A. It's been so challenging but rewarding to know I've made a difference out there! It's been hard at times dealing with the pressures we have all been under, but I’m proud when I put my ambulance uniform on and I know I’m making a difference out there, helping people in need and bringing comfort to loved ones.
Q. How do you feel about being part of the BBC Ambulance show?
A. I've enjoyed everything about been involved in the programme, showing people the role that we all play to save lives daily. It's been an amazing experience and I've enjoyed every minute of it.
Q. What impact do you hope the series will have in the North East?
A. I hope people see what we do every day to help and make the difference in saving lives. Sometimes people think it's just a paramedic but it's a bigger picture starting from the amazing call takers then to us within dispatch who allocate the jobs then to the paramedics out there. We are all one team, one front line team and work well together. I’m hoping the show will show the beautiful places the North East has to offer and how the people who live in the North East are friendly, approachable and have a great sense of humour; there are some amazing characters out there!
Q. What do you love about the North East?
A. People always ask what I like about where am from and am I proud. I love Teesside, there's so much character and some beautiful coastline. I’m also so proud to say I am a Geordie.