London Ambulance Service staff and volunteers will be continuing to work around the clock this Christmas to care for Londoners who need us.
About 1,900 people across the Service – including ambulance crews, 999 and 111 call handlers, and the many other teams and individuals that are vital to what we do – will be working on Christmas Day this year. Many more will be on shift over the Christmas period.
Helen, a paramedic, is among the many who will be working on the day. She is based in Edmonton, and has worked at London Ambulance Service for 11 years.
Every year, she alternates between working on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – so by now she is very used to being on shift over the festive period.
In the past, when she has the day off, she will spend it with her nine-year-old son, her parents and her sister.
The plan this year is to pop in to see her son at his dad’s in Walthamstow after work. Then she’ll visit her parents for a Christmas dinner, and join them in the evening for a film.
She said: “Christmas Day is always quite a nice shift. There are lots of snacks left out in mess rooms for us, so we don’t need to bring in food. The roads are empty. It’s a little quieter for calls. I spend the shift thinking about how nice the evening will be, so I’m always in a good mood.”
Camden-based Fleet Multi-Skilled Technician Ollie Pulsford will be working on Christmas Day for the fifth time in 10 years.
Ollie carries out maintenance and repairs on London Ambulance Service’s 1,000-plus vehicles and vehicle-based equipment.
He said: “I love knowing that every time I work on a vehicle and release it back to our crews, that vehicle could potentially help save a life.
“If it wasn’t for the workshops and operations support, vehicle cleaning and preparation, administration, cleaners, logistics, IT, and so on, the Service would not work.
“London Ambulance Service is a machine, and each and every one of us play a vital role in keeping that machine going.”
Putney-based Emergency Ambulance Crew Ellie Skinner has worked every Christmas in the six years she has worked for London Ambulance Service.
This year, she is juggling full-time work with full-time university studies as she is training to become a paramedic.
She said: “Thank goodness for FaceTime, meaning I can still say hello to my family when I’m working. I will often be armed with a cheese board and a bottle of non-alcoholic bubbly whilst on shift, just to have a little bit of festive cheer whilst at work!”
Speaking about her role, she added: “I enjoy every day being different and working with some of my closest friends. Being able to go home at the end of the day and feeling like you’ve helped someone is always a good feeling.”
Volunteers at London Ambulance Service – including our Emergency Responders – will also be helping Londoners this Christmas.
Emergency Responders (ERs) are London Ambulance Service-trained volunteers who attend a range of emergency calls in Service uniform and in blue-light response cars. During the pandemic, they have also given their time on our ambulances.
Thibault Martin-Lagardette, an ER Team Leader, will be volunteering on Christmas Day and Boxing Day afternoons, as well as on New Year’s Eve.
He said: “This is my second year volunteering over Christmas. It is a special time for many people, and I particularly connect to its spirit of giving and sharing.
“While most people enjoy some great family time, some may not be as lucky. By volunteering over Christmas, I am giving and sharing my personal time to help the unlucky few. I can’t think of anything more in the spirit of Christmas than that!”
Becca is based in the South East London NHS 111 service in Croydon, which is run by London Ambulance Service. She has worked in this role for just over a year.
Becca’s role as a Health Advisor is to assess a patient’s clinical needs so she can give them the best care, guidance, and advice and – if necessary – ensure they get the help they need as quickly as possible.
While this will be her first Christmas shift at London Ambulance Service, Becca is well used to working over the festive period as she did so in a previous job in Spain.
She said: “This year I will be sending cards, small gifts and attempting to video call my loved ones as I will be working most of the festive season.
“In my job, I enjoy being able to help people, being there to listen when they are scared or worried and don’t know where to turn.”
Saman is a medical student who has volunteered with London Ambulance Service for two years. He mainly works from Waterloo and Ilford ambulance stations – both in a car and on a ambulance.
He said: “I love the social side of the Emergency Responder (ER) scheme, working with close friends in the car as well as getting to know the local ambulance crews. I also enjoy thinking on my feet and not knowing what the day is going to bring, especially the most important decision of the day: where we’re going for food!
“Most importantly, it’s very rewarding to be able to help patients.”
Ziana has worked at London Ambulance Service for three years, and is based in our Waterloo HQ 999 control room. This is not the first Christmas Day that she has worked.
When she has Christmas off, Ziana usually celebrates with her family and enjoys lots of food and games – as well as a few drinks.
While she won’t be able to do that this year, she plans on popping over to see her family after work – although she won’t be staying too late as she is working the whole Christmas weekend.
“I enjoy working with such an amazing group of staff, and I enjoy helping my patients,” says Ziana.
Saman worked a few shifts over Christmas and New Year’s last year, and this year will be working throughout December and in-between Christmas and New Year.
He added: “Everyone is generally in good spirits and there’s a lovely festive atmosphere among staff and volunteers, and it’s nice to get around and see all the Christmas decorations over London.
“An increase in visitors coming to London, as well as shorter, colder days, also bring additional challenges and it’s still just as rewarding to be able to help patients and those close to them.
“I’m looking forward to another year volunteering as an ER as the scheme continues to grow from strength to strength.”