Most people across the borough will spend Christmas eating, drinking and being merry with their friends and family. But what about those whose jobs don’t grant them an automatic holiday over the festive season? HANNAH RAVEN spoke to paramedic James Hill who will be working on Christmas Day.
“I’ll be up at 5am to be in work for 5.45am,” said James, who lives in Uxbridge with his partner, Andrew Hadfield.
“Luckily Andy does shifts too so he’ll also be working.”
But despite the early start, it won’t be straight down to work for the 28-year-old, who works for the East of England Ambulance Service.
“I’ll put the kettle on, have a brew, wish the night staff a Merry Christmas and start on some nibbles that staff have brought in,” he said.
“We’ll then go and find an ambulance, do our daily checks, and pop on a Christmas CD and put some tinsel about the cab.”
Visits from elderly relatives go hand in hand with the festive season, so James’s day often starts with call outs to older people who have fallen over in a home they are not used to.
“We assess them at home and might have to take them to hospital,” said James.
“When we arrive at hospital with any casualties, we wish the staff a merry Christmas and raid the goodies they have brought in too!
“Not forgetting another brew.”
James’s afternoon usually consists of dealing with aches and pains from too much food or party games gone wrong.
“Or grans who have been given too much sherry!” he said.
“Then there’s the cuts and brakes from kids falling off new bikes or burns from cooking.”
While not the traditional way to spend the day, James says he does enjoy his alternative Christmas in some ways.
“I quite like seeing how others spend Christmas - it’s a bit like through the keyhole, looking at their decorations and smelling their Christmas dinners,” he said
“And I get them to show me the presents they got, it gives me a head start on what to get people next year!”
But he says it isn’t always a jolly experience.
“There are always sad parts to the job,” he said.
“Some people we go to are alone or in need at Christmas, and we do our best to ensure the contact they have with us is positive and that we can do our best to help.
“It can be very emotionally challenging when someone is at a very low point especially as it’s something that is close to my heart.
“Like with any job it has its challenges and you have to learn not to let it affect you otherwise you would take everything home with you.
“But mental health crisis does break my shell as I feel I want to do a lot more to help the person, but you can’t, and this is upsetting sometimes.
“I think sometimes we forget that, as tough or as robust we want to be, there is that one call every so often that reminds you that we are only human and some things can hit that nerve. “
He said it is also particularly hard when someone passes away at Christmas.
“The deaths are very sad, but unfortunately these things do happen.”
This year James has an extra reason to miss being with his family on the big day.
“I am missing out on my niece, Jessie’s, first Christmas,” he said.
And he will also miss being with his dogs, Freddie and Tilly, who love playing with tinsel and wrapping paper.
“My family do understand and respect my job though,” he said.
James does not get paid any extra for working across the holidays.
“As we are an essential service and work 24 seven, the unsocial hours pay is worked in to our salaries already,” he explained.
When James does eventually arrive at his family home in Orchard Waye, Uxbridge, in evening, there is only one thing he wants to see.
“My ideal present would be a Morris Minor 1000 with a blue light,” he said.
“One morning I want to open my curtains to see one on the drive!”
So if you do unfortunately have to call on the ambulance service this festive season, James says just remember they are there to help.
“Be safe and have fun and spare a thought and a mince pie for us,” said James.
“No, seriously just remember we are here to help and give the treatment you need but when we are away from our loved ones, a smile and a little ‘Merry Christmas’ is a great gift for us.”