The Great North Air Ambulance Service’s (GNAAS) youngest ever paramedic has passed the charity’s gruelling sign-off process with flying colours.

Hollie Smith from Chester-Le-Street joined the charity in January this year after nine years with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).

Miss Smith is the youngest paramedic to ever be employed by the organisation at just 28-years-old.

Miss Smith said: “I feel a sense of relief and I am really proud of myself. The day was probably the most intense and stressful eight hours of my life, and I can safely say I am glad it’s over.”

The Northern Echo: Hollie Smith Picture: GNAASHollie Smith Picture: GNAAS

At GNAAS the term ‘signed-off’ means that clinicians have met all the necessary requirements to deliver pre-hospital critical care on the helicopter or critical care car without supervision from another member of the team – a huge milestone.

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Miss Smith said: “The night before my sign-off day I had the worst sleep and just kept going over a million different things in my head, even down to overthinking whether I had made the team the right thing for breakfast!

“On the morning before I left to head into work, I felt physically sick.”

The Northern Echo: Great North Air Ambulance paramedic Hollie SmithGreat North Air Ambulance paramedic Hollie Smith

GNAAS’s tough sign-off process involves making breakfast for the entire critical care team, followed by a full day of intense scenario simulations, three written exams, and three presentations to a panel.

Miss Smith said: “After my assessments had ended, the team went into a room to chat about how it had gone.

“One of my assessors, GNAAS paramedic Gordon Ingram, brought me back into the room and with a poker face, he asked me: “do you think you’re ready” then paused and added: “because we do.”

“I started to cry and there were hugs and high fives all around. I was on cloud nine”

GNAAS’ director of operations, Andy Mawson, said: “Hollie has shone during her training period and sign-off.

The Northern Echo: The Great North Air Ambulance fleet The Great North Air Ambulance fleet

“I hope she can be an inspiration not only for our female colleagues but also for all those who may not get the opportunity to work in a critical care type role by showing you can achieve anything when you set your mind to it.

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“We're hugely proud of her, and I know she's going to be brilliant.”

Miss Smith added: “I think the next few months are really just about consolidating my skills here and building on what I already know!

“It’s been a hell of a ride so far and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

GNAAS relies on donations to survive. Win £10K in their 20th Birthday Raffle by clicking here. :

The Northern Echo: Paramedic Hollie Smith Picture: GNAASParamedic Hollie Smith Picture: GNAAS (Image: Great North Air Ambulance Service)


The Northern Echo: Great North Air Ambulance Service paramedic Hollie SmithGreat North Air Ambulance Service paramedic Hollie Smith

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