A Day in the Life: Alice Gardner
Welcome to the first in our ‘Day in the Life’ blog series. Each month we will interview a colleague from a different area of the Charity to reflect on their career and experiences at EHAAT.
Today we are introducing you to Alice Gardner, Clinical Support Assistant at EHAAT. Alice joined the team in 2022 after previously having a career in manufacturing and logistics.
Alice, how did you make the switch to Clinical?
Unfortunately, my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer in April 2021, he sadly died just over a month after his diagnosis, which was incredibly difficult.
During that time my Dad and our family received some amazing care from a range of healthcare professionals. One time really sticks in my mind, we had a rapid response team arrive at our home to care for my Dad. The kindness and compassion they showed to us all as family, taking time to sit down and explain, help provide answers and reassurance although my Dad was very unwell was something I will never forget.
Shortly after this I realised I needed a change and whilst I loved my previous job it opened my eyes to a whole new world. I don’t have any clinical qualifications but I knew I wanted to use the skills I do have to be a part of helping to make a difference to someone’s care and support on what could possibly be the worst day of their life.
What attracted you to EHAAT?
I had never worked for a charity or for any kind of healthcare provider before so it was a huge change but being able to work so closely with the clinical team, Doctors and Paramedics was something that really attracted me to this job role.
All of the Clinical Team, Doctors and Paramedics here at EHAAT are truly incredible people, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to work so closely alongside them, putting in processes and systems to support them has been really rewarding.
I am lucky enough to work with all different parts of the charity, from the crew and clinical team to the fundraising team and our wonderful volunteers.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I tend to have a routine in the morning, first thing is to check over the medical store and kit, making sure equipment is on charge and all the kit is in stock ready for the crew to restock kit bags. If there are any gaps in the medical kit drawers I either restock or make a list for ordering later in the day.
I look after both medical stores at each base so if we are low at one base I will move stock between bases, with the help of our volunteer Ian. I make sure we utilise the stock items we have as there are different needs for each base. We also have to account for different times of the year. The demand for certain items and delivery times can fluctuate throughout the year so it’s managing this and making sure we always have stock available for the crew.
It’s possible the night crew may have used the chest surgery set to open up a patient’s chest to gain access to their heart for a variety of reasons. All of this equipment has to be taken to our local hospital to be sterilised before it can be put back into service so I often jump into the spare RRV and travel over to Harlow hospital to get this sorted as soon as possible.
If the crew are particularly busy it’s possible they may need help restocking once they are back to base so I always make sure I am around when I hear the helicopter return back to base to help with anything they need.
What skills are required in your position?
Good organisation skills are a must, luckily, I absolutely love a spreadsheet!
This job role is really hands-on, so I think being flexible and approachable is really important, there are lots of moving parts here, so it’s great to be able to jump in and help others when needed at the drop of a hat.
Another of my roles here at EHAAT is ordering in new flight suits for the crew. I studied Fashion Marketing at University so this is helpful when measuring up the team to ensure everything fits correctly, as all our flight suits are bespoke to each individual.
Have you learned anything new since you started?
I have learnt a huge amount since being here at EHAAT. The Clinical team and the crew are always happy to include me in their training sessions and discussions which has been hugely beneficial to my learning. They have answered many questions and taken time to explain and show me how things work and what happens on a HEMS job. I can’t thank them enough for all the support they have shown me.
Furthering my skills, I have recently completed a three-day course on special effects make up, covering from bruises to gunshot wounds, using hand cast silicone mould and special fake blood products. This enables me to set up scenarios in the SIM suite using our SIM body manikins to provide as close to real life scenarios as possible.
What part(s) of your job do you find the most challenging?
It’s been a huge learning curve since I started here in terms of getting my head around all the kit and equipment, how it’s used and the processes that the team carry out to ensure not only the best possible practice but what is best for each patient.
Some of the kit we carry on the helicopter and the RRV’s I never knew existed before I worked here. It’s incredible to learn the procedures that can take place to the side of a road to help someone in need.
What excites you most about the work?
I love our immersive SIM Suite, I am really lucky to be able to support the team in their training here at EHAAT.
I keep all of our out of date kit for our training kit, so everything the teams train with is the kit they would actually use when out on a job, including the bags they carry to scene.
We have a range of manikins that are very lifelike, which is a huge benefit when training. I organise, with help of the donation centre, clothes and props to use in our training sessions to provide another level of realism by dressing manikins and staging our SIM suite to suit the particular training sessions we are carrying out.
Thanks so much to Alice for taking the time to talk us through a day in the life of a Clinical Support Assistant!
Are you interested in joining the EHAAT family and advancing your career? Check out our latest opportunities here