23 May 2017
When you read an article about London’s Air Ambulance in the newspaper, or watch our team on TV, it’s likely that Alexandra Sutherland has been working behind the scenes. As our Media and Public Affairs Officer, Alex works tirelessly to promote our charity to the media and external influencers — including partner stakeholders, politicians and celebrities - helping the wider PR and Communications team spread the word about the critical life-saving service London’s Air Ambulance provides.
“The ultimate top-line of everything I do and all the conversations I have with stakeholders and media is that ‘we are a charity — we need your help’, Alex explains. “The majority of people don’t realise that — they think that we’re fully funded by the NHS. When I told friends I was joining London’s Air Ambulance, I was surprised by how many of them had no idea that the majority of our funding comes from public donations. It’s a constant battle that we have to overcome as an organisation and particularly in the PR and Communications team.”
Having spent just under a year at London’s Air Ambulance, Alex has already been involved in some seminal moments for the charity.
“My most memorable moment at London’s Air Ambulance was when the organisation was recognised with a Pride of Britain Award for the treatment of Victoria, a 24 year old cyclist who needed a ground-breaking new procedure, REBOA, to prevent her from bleeding to death at the roadside. When we were shortlisted for the award, we had just three days to pull together a film about our team for the event.
“It was an incredibly busy time, not least because it fell on the same day as our Parliamentary Reception, but it was so much fun. The PR and Communications team were the first to find out that we’d won, but no one else was allowed to know because the news was being announced live on This Morning. We arranged for Victoria to come to the helipad and got the presenter, Alison Hammond, to hide behind the helicopter to surprise our medical team.
“There is always a possibility that the helicopter might be called out to a mission at any moment and we cannot take it for granted that it will be available for filming. It was such a rewarding moment for everyone at the charity and we got an amazing response from the public.”
This March, Alex was also a key part of the PR and Communications team’s response to the Westminster incident — an event that had great personal significance.
“Before joining London’s Air Ambulance, I worked in Parliament for five years. It’s somewhere I feel a strong connection to and I still know a lot of people there. On the day of the Westminster incident, I was sat in the London’s Air Ambulance office, and we had BBC News on the TV, when the news of shooting at Westminster broke out.
“For me, it felt like two worlds colliding. I was quite shaken and immediately texted some of my friends who work in Parliament to find out if they were okay.
“But I had to put my personal connections aside and concentrate on my role — people had seen the helicopter land outside the Houses of Parliament live on Television and they wanted to know what was going on.
“It was an emotional afternoon and it really brought home how incredible the London’s Air Ambulance is as a service and how hard everyone works together as a team.”