Blucher based “Papamedic” Shumel, aged 42, worked in education and development and spent a year in India managing training and quality, helping to set up contact centres, prior to joining NEAS in 2014. He is married to Rima and they have three children, Ismael, Alayna and Ishaaq. When he’s not spending time with his friends and family, you’ll find Shumel in the gym or playing sports.
Q. What attracted you to the job?
A. I wanted to help people. Being a paramedic is such a rewarding job and a caring profession, it’s right up my street. It’s so interesting and varied, no two days are the same. I like the fast-paced environment and the pressure of time critical emergencies, I also like looking after people and spending time with people who need that extra support such as our elderly patients. I wanted to work for the emergency services and also do something medical, so being a paramedic is a perfect fit.
Q. What brings you to work every day?
A. I know I’ve helped someone every day. I know I can go home and say I’ve made a difference to someone’s life even if I’ve not done a great deal, I’ve been there for them. On one level you might save someone’s life or another you could be supporting their social care needs. It all matters and makes a difference to their life.
Q. What is an average shift like?
A. A shift is so varied there’s never an average shift. You just don’t know what you are going to walk into, as soon as you get to the station and sign on your vehicle, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I suppose that’s the beauty of the job.
Q. What skills do you think people need to be able to do your job?
A. You need a really broad range of skills to be a good paramedic. It’s all about people so you need really good people skills and communications skills. Technical knowledge is very important because there is a lot of medical and clinical knowledge to remember. A cool and calm head helps and the ability to think quickly on your feet.
Q. It can be a traumatic job at times, how do you look after yourself and what support do you get?
A. It’s your friends and colleagues that get you through. Speaking about what happened on a shift or if you’ve had a bad job really helps. It’s also about finding coping mechanisms to help you stop taking things home. I find the gym really helps me destress, I also like to play football or any physical activity. If I’ve had a bad job all I want to do is go home and cuddle my kids, they’re my world and my real motivation.
Q. What has it been like working through the pandemic?
A. The pandemic was horrific, it changed the world and it also changed how we did everything. I sadly saw people dying before my eyes and as soon as we got into hospital. It was an awful time for everyone, I can’t really describe how it was for healthcare staff. I lost family and friends due to the virus and the subsequent effect. It’s not a period I would like to relive.
Q. Where do you see your career heading?
A. I definitely see my future in the ambulance service. I’m not sure which path I want to take yet, whether it’s critical care, management or utilising my background in education. I really enjoy the patient contact and being on the frontline, so I’m quite happy at the moment but you never know what the future will bring.
Q. How do you feel about being part of the BBC Ambulance show?
A. I wasn’t sure about being part of the show at first because you really put yourself out there personally and professionally. I’m so glad it did it though, I would have always regretted it if I hadn’t been involved.
It was really strange having TV cameras following you around and then the ambulance being mocked up with go pro cameras everywhere. It was very much big brother was watching you. There wasn’t a zoom on the camera so the camera person had to be 5 inches away from your face if they wanted a close up, I found that really off putting. We had to gain consent from everyone before we started filming , but everyone I spoke to was really keen to be involved and was happy to be filmed. To see yourself of TV, particularly the BBC’s biggest documentary is very surreal, it’ll be interesting to see the end product and my kids are extremely excited about seeing their “Papamedic” on the TV!
Q. What impact do you hope the series will have in the North East?
A. I hope it will showcases what NEAS does and how dedicated and passionate out staff are. I hope it highlights the needs of the communities in the North East and I also hope it showcases what the North East is all about and what great people we have.