Sophie Birt

TAAS Critical Care Paramedic

I always wanted to be paramedic, I first had an insight into the ambulance service when I was 14 and attended for a week’s work experience. At that time, you started off on patient transport, so I worked my way up to being a paramedic, and once I had gained experience, I applied for the Critical Care Paramedic (CCP) role with The Air Ambulance Service (TAAS).

When I joined TAAS back in 2000, it was a very male dominated place to work, but I didn’t experience any barriers personally and my male colleagues at the time were very encouraging. The main barriers came from outside the service, when we were out on a job, we’d hear comments like “oh they have sent two small girls” and “where are the men, you won’t manage” – my male colleagues would say I was fitter and stronger than them, so we just laughed it off.

This International Women’s Day’s theme is ‘inspire inclusion’ and to me, inclusion means that everyone should have an equal chance to do what they wish. It also means not leaving a person deliberately out of something that they may like to be part of. In the future it would be great to see the continued variety of all personality types within the profession – I think we have strong team that allows for us to be who we are. Although a female pilot would be amazing to have on the team.

I feel very privileged to be part of a Helicopter Emergency Medicine Service (HEMS) team, getting to this level is a big achievement for me. I am proud to also have completed a BSc during my career and continue with my studies. I wouldn’t be where am today without the support of my colleagues, friends, and my amazing family.

So, a key thing I’d like to say to others is, to just go for it, I have achieved my dream job and it’s had its challenges along the way. If you want to achieve something you will, strength and determination is all part of the process, and I still have that today to try and be the best I can.