Critical Care Paramedic Thomas began working with Magpas Air Ambulance in February. Just six weeks after his Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine training and being signed off to work in the role full-time, Thomas was called to an incident that he will remember forever.

13-year-old Daisy had suffered a cardiac arrest on her way to school. The Magpas Air Ambulance team on shift: Thomas, alongside Dr James Price and CCP Steve Chambers were called immediately to assist the ambulance service and try to bring her back to life.

What thoughts run through your head on the way to such a heart-wrenching incident?

I remember trying to focus on a million and one things en route; radio protocol, the emergency drive to scene, the drug calculations for a child, how CPR differs for a child… the list goes on.

I was also trying not to think too much about the fact that it was a young child we were going to. I have always found resuscitating children emotionally challenging, and this only worsened when I became a parent! Having two boys, aged six and three, I can’t even begin to comprehend the sheer distress and pain parents must feel in that moment.

However, when we arrived on scene, the training Magpas Air Ambulance provides kicked in. All I could do was focus on my role within the team, and work to give her the best possible care that we could.

It was only after we’d treated and taken her to hospital, we were sat with Daisy’s parents and James was explaining to them what had happened and what would happen next, that it caught up with me. You experience such a mixture of emotions; a surge of adrenaline, elation that the job couldn’t have gone better, devastation that the situation even occurred in the first place and apprehension at what the next few hours and days would hold for Daisy and her family.

It’s not that common for air ambulance medics to meet patients they’ve treated. How did it feel to not only find out Daisy had survived, but to meet her again and see how well she’s doing?

Daisy remained in my thoughts for days after that incident, and I definitely hugged my boys a little tighter afterwards. The surge of relief and excitement when I heard a week later that she was sitting up in a wheelchair and going to be OK was just phenomenal, and the day we met Daisy again was magical. There’s no other way to describe seeing her smiling with friends and family!

By the very nature of our role, we see the sickest and most injured people in the region and as such unfortunately have to deal with tragic endings, as well as the positive ones. So to see her moving on and enjoying the rest of her life—and getting to spend time with Daisy and her family as we shared recollections of the day—was really humbling. It will forever be a memory that reminds me why we do what we do, why we sacrifice so much for this career and why I am the luckiest person in the world for getting to do this job every day.

Daisy with Magpas Air Ambulance CCPs Thomas and Steve, and Dr James, who helped save her life. (Photo courtesy of The Sun)

Just a few months after the incident. The whole team who treated Daisy that day were but up for the 999 Hero award at the Who Cares Wins Awards. How did you feel when you found out you’d been shortlisted?

I was really blown away! We all simply did our job to the best of our ability. We are nothing special, just very lucky to have the opportunity to make a difference to families every day. For all of us, that didn’t warrant recognition or praise, the reward was seeing Daisy doing so well and going on to live a healthy life full of opportunity.

I’m thankful though to Daisy and her family for this recognition and allowing us to share her journey. As well as Magpas Air Ambulance for giving us the ability to make a difference to patients and the charity’s amazing fundraisers, who through their hard work allow us to keep saving lives like Daisy’s 24/7.

Can you give us a run through the awards day?

We arrived at the hotel they’d provided for us (which was rather posh!) and after getting ready, met in the foyer where the champagne started flowing.

A short coach journey later, we stepped out onto the red carpet and were met with flashes of cameras from all directions. It was a very surreal experience being photographed alongside people from the telly. When we went inside, we saw our faces on a giant poster and the bizarreness continued. Before filming started, we mingled with the other guests and I couldn’t help but laugh at the strangeness of having a casual chat with Joey Essex and Harry Redknapp, before talking at length to Kier Starmer and Piers Morgan. But more profoundly was the wealth of inspirational people in one room.

Filming then started and it was funny seeing the reality of these programmes, where what (on screen) seems a spontaneous moment is actually staged and sometimes filmed several times.

We got so wrapped up in hearing about the amazing things people do across the country every day, we’d almost forgotten there was an award up for grabs until Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was on the stage talking about the importance of teamwork, and our very own Steve Chamber’s face (Magpas Air Ambulance Critical Care Paramedic) appeared on the screen! I then suddenly realised that whilst we’d been listening, several cameras had crept around our table and were filming our every reaction. I could hardly control my excitement for the team when we heard we’d won—it was a complete surprise!

It was hard to take everything in in that moment; we had to go up to the stage and meet the Prime Minister, everyone was clapping, and lights and cameras were on us… And then Leslie, the Leading Operations Manager from EEAST who was also at the scene of Daisy’s incident, delivered a staggering speech—written just hours before on a hotel napkin!

Did you watch yourself back on TV? 

I was on shift when it aired and still haven’t watched it yet, but I got loads of messages when we all appeared.

A highlight for me though was my grandad’s reaction. Everyone has a hero in their life and for me, that is him. Growing up I heard stories about his life as a leading firefighter at his local station and used to sit in awe at his courage and selflessness. I always wanted to make him proud and be the force for good that he was, in my own way. Whilst this is very much recognition for our whole team and my part was only very small, the look on his face when he rang me in tears to say he had seen me on TV made me so proud.