- Course studied:
- Paramedic Science
- Year of graduation:
Paramedic TV Star
Darren Neeld is a paramedic with the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) and one of the stars of the BBC documentary series Ambulance. The former gunner and combat medic with the Royal Air Force completed his Paramedic Science Foundation Degree with Staffordshire University in 2015 and has been on the emergency services frontlines ever since.
His manager recommended he apply for the BBC show when they were looking to cast a second series following a successful first run in London. When Ambulance moved to the Midlands, Darren was chosen to take part and had a camera installed in his truck, giving a glimpse into the working life of paramedics in the UK.
“I really enjoy working for the West Midlands Ambulance Service,” said Darren. “That’s the main thing. The work is constant. I get to work, get the truck and go straight out always. When we’re out, we usually go from patient to patient, only returning to the station for breaks.
“I guess it makes for good TV as the BBC’s first series of Ambulance, in London, was a success so they brought it to Birmingham. That second series did really well also so they’re coming back for a third, which we start filming in December. I’ve seen the show and I 100% cringe at myself when I’m on.”
Life in Public Service
Darren’s interest in becoming a paramedic started after he left the RAF. He served as a gunner and received combat medic training during deployment. He explained: “At that time, I never thought I could be a paramedic. I was in the RAF for four years, after joining at 20, because it gave me a start in life and experience. We got trained up and I was designated to get medic training. It was very basic, just patch someone up to get them back to base, but I enjoyed it.
“When I left at 24 I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had no skills other than infantry, which is non-transferrable to civilian life. I always wanted to be in the police or fire service but we were in the middle of a recession and they weren’t hiring. I was living in Solihull at the time and there was an ambulance station opposite my house, when they had ambulance stations in the area, and I went to have a chat with the paramedics. They really encouraged me so I signed up to a distance learning access course and took myself back to college.
“I was 27 when I started the Paramedic Science Foundation Degree at Staffordshire University. I didn’t really want to move too far from where I was living, which was a bit of a commute, but the course was awesome. The lecturers were all amazing. Getting hands on with the equipment was a highlight, such as having access to an ambulance, and practice working on fake patients either on your own or in a pair. It was great preparation.
“After the Foundation Degree, I had already been working with WMAS for a while, which had started during my time at University. We knew there were jobs available and there was a recruitment drive, so I had an assessment and got my job after graduating in 2015. I went to Thailand for a few months before starting and, when I came back, I did three weeks of blue light driving, then two weeks in the classroom and then I was straight into it.
“I’m still with WMAS at the moment but I’d potentially like to work abroad in future. I enjoy working as a paramedic and I’m considering taking contract work oversees somewhere at some point. My experience in the RAF sets me up well and I’d like to help in those countries that have struggled with conflict for so many years – I have a few options in mind. It’s only something I’m looking into at the moment so we’ll see.”