The star of our official trailer, health advisor Jen Evans, is based in our Emergency Operations Centre in Hebburn. The Sunderland mum-of-two actually worked for NEAS for three years prior to leaving for a call centre job
at Barclays, but regretted her decision and returned to her ambulance family in 2019.
Q. What attracted you to the job?
A. I want to help people and be part of something important
Q. What brings you to work every day?
A. I love the people I get to work with day in day out, they are what keep me going
Q. What is an average shift like?
A. There's no such thing as an average shift but it's always busy. I can take 60 calls on a 12-hour shift but no two calls are ever the same. I think the most calls I've ever taken on one shift was 90.
Q. What skills do you think people need to be able to do your job?
A. Empathy is a must, you have to be assertive to do this role but always keep in mind whilst we deal with emergencies day in day out this could be the first 999 call the caller has ever made.
Q. It can be a traumatic job at times, how do you look after yourself and what support do you get?
A. The Occupational Health department is amazing, the support from them is second to none and we have access to a range of different services if needed. Sometimes I'm able to switch off when I leave work, but for other shifts it's not that easy; I make sure I make time to read a book or do something for myself
Q. What has it been like working through the pandemic?
A. Honestly, it’s been horrendous. The call volume, the call types, the fear from the general public in the first wave was something I hope to never experience again. However, it brought myself and my colleagues closer together, we were all there for each other
Q. Where do you see your career heading?
A. At the moment i'm happy being a call handler
Q. How do you feel about being part of the BBC Ambulance show?
A. It’s exciting. After a while we actually forgot the cameras were there, the crew just became part of the team
Q. The trailer features a baby birth call. What was that like?
A. Baby births are few and far between for us but they're definitely a call you dread because you've not just got one patient, you've got two. This particular call was actually the first birth I've done from start to finish and honestly the relief I felt when the baby started crying was unbelievable - it was honestly like hearing my own children cry for the first time. The mam was saying throughout the call that she wanted her mam and when I put the phone down, the first thing I did was ring my own mam - I just wanted to hear her voice. It was a scary call to deal with but I had the clinician sat next to me supporting me and the mam's sister was absolutely amazing; if I ever had another child, I would want her in the delivery room with me!
Q. What impact do you hope the series will have in the North East?
A. Hopefully the general public will see the massive strain on the service and think before they dial 999 when it’s not an emergency.
Q. What do you love about the North East?
A. We’re so lucky to live so near the coast and to be able to have days at the beach whenever we want.