In part 3 of our series on working over Christmas, we speak to Paul McQuade, a dedicated ambulance worker who’s worked for the ambulance service for nearly three decades, and as a paramedic for the last 16 years.
He’s among the more than one million workers who give up time with family and friends over the holidays to be the first port of call in an emergency. He’s been working over Christmas for the last eight years – except for one year when he was ill, next year will be his first Christmas off.
The stress inherent in his job goes without saying – Paul must interact with patients and their friends and family when they are at their lowest point physically and emotionally.
If for example he’s called to a road accident, he must tend to people whose lives may very well be at risk.
“You have to make split second decisions that could really mean the difference between life and death,” Paul explains. “You have to interact and work closely with police and fire crew.”
Still, despite the stress, Paul enjoys the work.
“I can say I am one of those people who actually loves their job,” he says. “There’s not a single day that goes by at work that is the same as the next.”
Working over Christmas, Paul explains, can be different from other times of the year when he works.
“In many ways, it really is a sad day because we find lots of people who are out on their own when we’re called out,” he notes. “You’ll speak with relatives who don’t see their loved ones all year then they have to deal with an emergency or tragedy.
“Then on the opposite end you tend to people who’ve been out enjoying themselves – often enjoying themselves a bit too much.”
While Paul says he has certainly missed out on the many years he’s had to work over Christmas, he’s gotten used to it and spends time with friends and family on other days during the festive period.
“It’s important that people acknowledge and pay tribute to all the workers who put their lives on hold to make sure everyone can enjoy a safe and happy Christmas,” Paul says.
He urges all Unite members to enjoy the festive period and stay safe.
“No matter what you might be doing on Christmas day – even if you’re working – try your best to enjoy it.”
This feature first appeared in Unite’s members magazine uniteWORKS. You can read the latest edition on the Unite website here. Or as a Unite member you can receive a print or digital copy by changing your membership records through My Unite or by contacting your local regional office regional membership admin team.