Lifesaving charity Magpas Air Ambulance operates an air ambulance and three rapid response vehicles to save lives 24/7 in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and beyond—and the provision of advanced medical care doesn’t stop at Christmas. Magpas Air Ambulance will continue to respond to medical emergencies every day over the Christmas period, and one of the charity’s newest recruits—Dr Chris Hook, who started working with the charity in the summer this year—is on shift this Christmas Day.
Chris’ journey into pre-hospital medicine is little different than most; having previously worked in war zones and poverty-stricken areas with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)—known also as Doctors without Borders—and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). He’s set up Emergency Departments and provided training in conflict areas such as Yemen and Gaza, worked to treat refugees in South Sudan and Bangladesh, and organised mass vaccination and treatment plans for outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Malaria, Cholera and Measles in areas of Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Chris explains, “When the coronavirus pandemic struck I returned to the UK and used my experience of working in difficult, rural and austere environments to develop my career in Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM)—and I was fortunate enough to land this great job combining paediatric critical care retrieval medicine with PHEM at Magpas Air Ambulance.”
Chris is also no stranger to working on Christmas Day. He continues, “My team and I will still try and cook a meal in the small kitchen at the operations base, but we also need to be ready to drop everything, leaving the second the emergency phone rings.
“No one expects that they’re going to need Magpas Air Ambulance that day. We could be called to someone who’s been caught in a road traffic collision on their way to visit family. We could land in the middle of a field when someone’s been taken ill on their traditional Christmas Day walk. We could end up in a family home… We’re the last guests people expect to turn up.”
Magpas Air Ambulance exists to give patients the best possible chance of survival and recovery by bringing hospital-level care to people in their ultimate moment of need—whenever and wherever that is. However, as Chris explains, “I think we’re even more acutely aware of the consequence of our actions when we’re treating patients on Christmas Day. When tragedy strikes around Christmas, it feels particularly poignant. What is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year can very quickly become the worst.
“Of course, it’s sad not to be with my own family on Christmas Day, but I’m willing to give that up in order to keep other families together.”
Natalie Church, Magpas Air Ambulance Director of Operations, explains “There’s a whole team of doctors, paramedics and flight crew at Magpas Air Ambulance, who will be working throughout Christmas to care for all those who need them. But, as we’re a charity, they can only be there thanks to donations from the people and communities we serve. We know this winter will be difficult for many but every £1 donated really does make a difference. So, if you’re thinking of supporting a local charity this Christmas then please think of Magpas Air Ambulance—we’re currently running a Winter Superdraw which is a great way to help our team save lives, whilst being in with a chance of winning £5,000.”
Play the Superdraw today by visiting superdraw.magpas.org.uk.