International Women’s Day (March 8) is designed to celebrate the achievements of women and drive gender parity - and the female crew members on board the iconic yellow ‘Ambucopter’ are marking the occasion.
With an operational crew of 20 men and three women, it is not often that the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance’s three female crew members are on shift together.
When this somewhat unusual occurrence took place, Chief Executive Officer Karen Jobling joined co-pilot Anna Loake, clinical Lead Dr Susan Dashey, and paramedic Jane Pattison to mark International Women’s Day.
All four women hold significant positions within the charity.
Karen Jobling has been CEO for the last two years, and during this time the charity has seen the new state of the art helicopter – the AW169 - come into service; the medical advancement of carrying blood on board and being able to undertake remote blood transfusions; and, more recently, the announcement to increase the service from 12 to 24 hours later this year.
A former RAF Officer, Karen has over 25 years of experience in the charity sector and a very keen interest in aviation.
She said: “It is great to see that once-traditionally male orientated roles such as pilots, doctors and paramedics are increasingly being undertaken by women.
“Our crew are certainly great role models for all youngsters – both boys and girls, and it would be great to see more female pilots, paramedics and doctors on board the Ambucopter in the future.
“When looking at the role of pilot, I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that as few as 5 per cent of commercial helicopter pilots are female, but we hope that through the exposure of our helicopter and through the service that Anna and the rest of the female crew deliver, many more girls and young women will be inspired to break with tradition and consider a career in aviation. I hold a private pilot’s license myself and it is immensely rewarding and something that shouldn’t be over-looked by women.”
Anna Loake is one of two co-pilots to have joined the Ambucopter crew after the delivery of the AgustaWestland 169 aircraft in June 2017.
She has already flown many emergency missions on board the iconic yellow helicopter, landing in everything from fields and carparks to the racetrack at Cadwell Park, and next to a swimming pool at the Butlins holiday resort in Skegness.
However, flying was not Anna’s first choice of career. After graduating from university, she spent ten years in the fashion industry and it was only by chance that she saw a leaflet for helicopter lessons one day in her local gym.
She explained: “I was never exposed to aviation when growing up, so a career in this field never occurred to me until that first trial lesson. I soon took up regular helicopter flying lessons, initially as a hobby, but then I started to consider it as something that I could actually do for a living.”
Anna qualified as a commercial pilot in 2006 and went on to work as a flight instructor and corporate charter pilot, before joining the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance last year.
Dr Susan Dashey is a consultant in anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine and is a vital member of the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance team, becoming joint clinical lead last year.
Susan has a particular interest in pre-hospital motorsport injury care and pre-hospital medicine. In 2011-12, she worked with the Sydney Helicopter Emergency Medical Service in Australia before returning to the UK.
She said: “I am proud to be a member of the clinical crew at the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance, it is such a rewarding job and no two days are ever the same.
“I manage to juggle my two roles with a very active three-year-old, two Labradors, and a very understanding partner!”
Paramedic Jane Pattison makes up the final female member of the crew.
She joined the ambulance service in 2004, before taking up an air ambulance paramedic role with the charity in 2011. She remains the Ambucopter’s longest-serving female crew member.
Jane said: “When I started with the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance in 2011 I was the only female on the crew. This remained the case up until last year when Anna and Susan joined the charity.
“It’s nice to have women to talk to, but when it comes down to it, we are all part of a really close-knit team, men and women who all work exceptionally well together, delivering excellent patient care.”
• Visit www.ambucopter.org.uk for more information about the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance.