Former Royal Marine, Martin, joined NEAS as a call handler in 2009 with the intention of eventually becoming a paramedic. However, he enjoyed working in the Emergency Operations Centre so much he couldn’t leave, and has progressed through the service to where he is now, leading a team of dispatchers.
The 33-year-old met his wife Angela through work and they live in Weardale with their two boys, Alex and Ryan, and three dogs and cat. A proud Geordie and Newcastle fan, Martin plays for Barnard Castle Rugby Club in his spare time, and has recently taken up golf, which he hopes will replace rugby when his body has had enough. When he’s not playing rugby or golf, you’ll find him adventuring with his family on Ulswater with their paddle boards and canoe.
Q. What attracted you to the job?
A. I originally wanted to be a paramedic and joined as a call handler with the intentions of going out on the road. I didn't know much about the service or control but I enjoyed my time as a call handler, it was something totally new to me. I was quickly promoted to communications officer and spent a few years working on the radios before I was promoted to dispatch officer. During this time, I realised that I actually enjoyed working in the control environment and my career path changed. I was then promoted to dispatch supervisor and more recently again to duty manager.
Q. What brings you to work every day?
A. We have five teams in control and spend as much time with our work family as we do with our families at home when we are on shift if not more! We deal with these situations together and always have each other's back. I love working with my team and are immensely proud to be their duty manager.
Q. What is an average shift like?
A. Every shift at work is different. We face different situations and challenges week in week out and we often come across something on a shift that we have never come across before. As a team we help hundreds of patients each shift, people who at that point in their life are dealing with the worst imaginable situations ever. Our job is to provide them with the best care we possibly can, and I believe as a team we do make a difference day in day out. One minute you can have a patient die and the next minute a baby is born so it’s like an emotional rollercoaster sometimes but we deal with it together as a team and make sure each other is ok before we go home to our own families. I believe humour is a huge part of working at NEAS as it helps us through the tough times. We always try to have a laugh to brighten the darker times.
Q. What skills do you think people need to be able to do your job?
A. Good communication skills is a must as is multi-tasking as we can often be dealing with 100+ jobs at any one time, so tasks overlap, and you may be doing more than one task at any time. You must be able to deal with all the different emotions that you can go through all in one shift.
Q. It can be a traumatic job at times, how do you look after yourself and what support do you get?
A. I always make sure when my shift is finished that I walk around the room before heading home to see if the team are all ok and thank them for their efforts during that shift. I tend to leave work at the door once my shift finishes, but I am very lucky that my wife works here so I can bounce anything that is bothering me off her if ever needed. We do have a fantastic occupational health department who are always there to offer further support if needed and the team know they can always approach me with anything inside or outside of work.
Q. Where do you see your career heading?
A. I am now into my 14th year here and I can honestly say I am happier than ever. I am proud to be a duty manager and I love the team I work with. I will continue to try and support them all as best I can and try and get the best out of them each shift. We all work as hard as we can and try to have a laugh to help keep morale high.
Q. How do you feel about being part of the BBC Ambulance show?
A. It was already a huge show and when the opportunity came up, I thought why not. It was nice to be involved and I was just myself so I am just hoping people think I am areet and come across ok on the TV!
Q. What impact do you hope the series will have in the North East?
A. I often find that control is the forgotten part of the service so I want to show my family and friends and members of the North East what we do as a team and as an organisation in general and the care we provide to patients in the North East day in, day out 24/7, 7 days a week. NEAS doesnt stop for Christmas, birthdays, bank holidays, special occasions or even COVID!
It will be nice for everyone outside of the service to see the whole cycle, from members of the public calling 999 and to show them the full process, the whole job cycle of the amount of work that goes in behind the scenes to get some help to that patient and get them into hospital if needed.
I just hope that the people of the North East watch this and understand that the pressures we face are largely out of our control and that we are honestly trying our hardest day in day out to get help to them as quick as we possibly can. We can only deal with the resources we have available.