13 Nov 2014
Seventeen years ago, a little girl came to the helipad. Her name was Sam, she was eleven and - just like seven-year-old Alex who visited recently - she had a track record of fundraising for London’s Air Ambulance.
We interviewed Sam just hours before her first shift. That’s right, Sam became an advanced trauma paramedic with London’s Air Ambulance. And her journey was far from straightforward.
“I started off working as a receptionist at the A&E of The Royal London Hospital. When London’s Air Ambulance launched its lottery, I became its first admin support."
TEN YEARS LATER
“The moment I decided I wanted to become a paramedic and join London’s Air Ambulance? It must have been when I saw my first carry back [of a patient]. I was nineteen at the time. I happened to be at the helipad. I think I was helping out to tidy up the equipment after a fundraising event. Seeing the helicopter land and watching everyone work together to save someone’s life was very powerful. Ten years on - after getting my degree in Paramedic Science and working with London Ambulance Service - I have become part of the team I once observed. It’s surreal.”
It is no coincidence that Sam had a chance to see a landing at the helipad. Or that as a child she had spent her weekends shaking the bucket for London’s Air Ambulance. She is the daughter of Christine Margetts, the first fundraiser for London’s Air Ambulance, now Community Partnerships Manager.
“Having watched my mum fundraise for the last seventeen years and having worked as the charity’s lottery admin, I definitely appreciate how much time and effort goes into fundraising for a mission — all the hard work before the helicopter can even take off. I have myself probably raised enough to fund a mission over the years.”
During my observer shift [for training purposes] it really hit me that I had started my secondment. When I put my helmet and my belt on I thought: That’s it. I’m here.”