International Women’s Day: number of women recruited to ‘high risk’ ambulance team doubles

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) has doubled the number of women who are specially trained to work in the most dangerous environments.

Despite stereotypical views, more women are becoming involved in job roles that require them to enter life-threatening situations.

In response to the London terrorist attacks in 2005, LAS became one of the first services to set up a Hazardous response team (HART) in which paramedics respond to patients in the most perilous of situations including fires, collapsed buildings and people trapped under trains or vehicles.

Previously, the team of 98 HART paramedics only included 11 women. The number now stands at 22 with more women applying.

Paramedics Rae Childs and Natalie Cole are two of the latest women to join HART but have previously had over 10 years of experience with LAS between the two of them.

Stating the experience as ‘intense and challenging’, Rae said the women have been going through a lot of training which includes ‘working at height on scaffolding, off-roading utility terrain vehicles and water rescue’.

She added: ‘It’s intense and challenging but I love it and I can’t believe I have the opportunity to learn all these new skills.’

As well as being trained to use their life-saving clinical knowledge in hazardous environments, HART paramedics also spend time training alongside emergency service colleagues in the police and fire services.  

Natalie said: ‘We are working alongside some of the most elite and experienced units in the country. It’s taking us out of our comfort zones but actually it is so empowering to get this opportunity – knowing we are specially trained to help people in the most difficult, dangerous and challenging circumstances.’

Natasha Wills is the Director of Resilience and Specialist Assets at LAS and HART paramedics are one of the specialties in her department.

She has worked hard to improve diversity and said: ‘This has traditionally been a male-dominated team – and this is true of HART across the country – so we made a deliberate effort to change that.

‘We held awareness days and encouraged female paramedics to come alone and try out some of the training activities for themselves.

‘So rather than being intimated by the gear, the uniform, the physical activity, when women saw an opportunity to apply, they found it a rewarding way to progress their careers. I would encourage any paramedic not to rule themselves out, but to give it a go.’  

This news was released by LAS in aid on International Women’s Day today, which is running with a theme of ‘Embrace Equity’.

Image credit: London Ambulance Service 


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top