Jersey's first female paramedic retires
JERSEY’S first female paramedic has retired after almost 30 years in the job.
Janet Davison was one of four women who joined the States of Jersey Ambulance Service in July 1990, after previously working as an auxiliary nurse and then being a stay-at-home mother with three young boys.
She started in patient transport and the following year became a ‘technician’, enabling her to help out with medical emergencies across the Island.
Three years later she went on a training course in the UK and qualified in November of that year, making her the first female paramedic in the Channel Islands. She was subsequently presented with her with qualification certificate by the then Deputy Corrie Stein.
One memorable occasion for the newly qualified paramedic was when she was chosen to take a trip on a Chinook helicopter the following year.
‘I was winched down onto the Havelet [ferry]. It was great,’ said Mrs Davison.
‘When I was on the deck and took my helmet off and shook my long hair I think people were a bit surprised,’ she added.
Other memories include an unfortunate mix-up over a baby’s sex after the mother gave birth in the back of the ambulance to, what Mrs Davison told the parents, was a baby boy.
‘I’d been in the job a long time by then, but I got sex of the baby wrong. I got a lot of stick about that and it all turned out OK, but it was very fraught at the time,’ she said.
Mrs Davison was made station manager in 2004, which involved running the station, working out rotas and other tasks, but still being ‘on the road’ and an operational paramedic. In 2006 she and her husband, Steve, gave up their jobs, packed up and left to make a life in France. But the efforts to renovate a gîte ate up all their money and, despite commuting to work in Jersey for a while, they returned to the Island in 2009.
‘I worked my way back up the ranks after starting as a technician again and followed a return-to-practice protocol, which meant I worked again as a paramedic,’ she said.
After a couple of years Mrs Davison, now aged 61, took on the training and development officer post, later delivering courses on basic life support to outside agencies such as the Fire and Rescue Service, care homes and the Hospital.
Demand was so high that in 2011 she started her own business, offering the same courses.
‘The Ambulance Service was limited to how many courses they could offer in the job, so I put on the extra courses,’ explained Mrs Davison. This was one of the reasons that she decided to retire.
‘I didn’t have to, but the first-aid business was getting bigger and after a long chat with hubby I decided to call it a day.’
One of the achievements that Mrs Davison is most proud of is the setting up of the Community First Responder Scheme, which uses the Good Samaritan app, whereby volunteers respond to calls.
Staff at the States police headquarters will put out a call to volunteers and the app makes a noise like a siren. Volunteers can decline or accept and they will stay with the patient until paramedics arrive.
‘I’ve now got 30 volunteers trained in basic life support and the use of a defibrillator,’ said Mrs Davison.
‘They can provide assurance and CPR, but they are not a replacement for an ambulance,’ she said.
Now that she has a little more time to herself, she fills it with going for walks and seeing more of her family, son Ben and stepchildren Ross and Sophie. She can now also get to the UK more often to visit her sons, Alex (now a drummer in the band The Dualers) and Gareth, and her grandchildren, twins Manu and Mielo (7).
She also plans to do more voluntary work, for a charity such as the Shelter Trust.
Describing the changes to the service over the years, Mr Davison said: ‘There’s been a huge increase in need for paramedics.
‘When I started there was a lot of down time – now it’s so very busy. It’s a very different job these days. Ambulances are like mini-hospitals now – it was “pick ’em up and pack ’em in” when I started. But it has been the most fantastic job, without a doubt.’
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