Peter Harmison

Peter HarmisonEmergency care technician – known affectionately as HARMO – was a lifeguard prior to joining what was then Cleveland Ambulance Service in January 1980.

The 67-year-old, of Greatham, has been based in Coulby Newham for the last six years, having been based at Middlesbrough prior to that.

Peter is married to Philip, his partner of 38 years, and they were one of the first couples to have a civil partnership in Manchester. His main hobby is scuba diving, something he has done since he was 16, and his dive buddy, Rob, recently qualified as a paramedic.

Taking part in BBC Ambulance was Peter’s final hurrah, having recently retired from our service. We caught up with him before he retired.

Q. What attracted you to the job?

A. I really wanted to join the fire service but I was to short so really it was my second choice, but it was a good choice.

Q. What brings you to work every day?

A. I always enjoyed a challenge and always loved the fact you never knew how or what to expect, each shift is often so different.

 Q. What is an average shift like?

A. Busy, demanding but also rewarding.

Q. What skills do you think people need to be able to do your job?

A. Definitely the ability to multi-task!

Q. It can be a traumatic job at times, how do you look after yourself and what support do you get?

A. Nowadays the Trust does offer support but staff often support each other. 

Q. What has it been like working through the pandemic?

A. The pandemic was very demanding, especially tor the NHS and more so for the ambulance service. It was totally an unprepared situation that the world was put in, the majority of people were in a state of panic and there was a big fear of the unknown. 

Q. Where do you see your career heading?

A. I recently retired after almost 43 years’ service. Sadly, I’ve finally realised it’s time to hang up my stethoscope. I’m going to miss my friends and colleagues and also working with the public, it feels a little like I’m leaving my comfort zone.

Q. How do you feel about being part of the BBC Ambulance show?

A. At first I was a little reluctant at taking part, but I’m so glad I did. It was a once in a lifetime experience and great fun. The first couple of hours I felt like Mr Bean, then I switched off to the camera and relaxed to being myself. 

Q. What impact do you hope the series will have in the North East?

A. Hopefully the public will get an insight into the work we do and just some of the day-to-day challengers we face, some good and some not so good.

Q. What do you love about the North East?

A. We are very lucky to live in the North East; we have vibrant cities, fantastic beaches, beautiful countryside and lovely friendly people…what more could you want?


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