‘I couldn’t sit there and do nothing’ - Ipswich teen on experience of helping ambulance service through coronavirus

Tallulah at work at the ambulance station Picture: TALLULAH RIDLEY

Tallulah at work at the ambulance station Picture: TALLULAH RIDLEY - Credit: Archant

Young people often face the stereotype of being lazy and thoughtless, but nothing could be further than the truth when describing Ipswich teenager Tallulah Ridley.

Tallulah Ridley wants to work with the air ambulance in the future Picture: TALLULAH RIDLEY

Tallulah Ridley wants to work with the air ambulance in the future Picture: TALLULAH RIDLEY - Credit: Archant

Tallulah, 17, a Year 12 pupil at One Sixth Form, has always wanted to work in the healthcare sector, but nothing could have prepared her for the last few months of her life, which have been spent helping out the East of England Ambulance Service.

Tallulah’s interest in healthcare began a few years ago when she joined St John Ambulance where she began to develop her first aid skills.

When she was in Year 10, Tallulah also undertook a two week placement with the East of England Ambulance Service at a local station.

But she has also had her own experiences with the service.

“In the past few years I have had seizures,” said Tallulah. “Seeing how the paramedics have dealt with my family by keeping them calm when I have had a seizure has made me think about what I wanted to do.

“I also like helping people.”

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When Covid-19 hit, the sixth former decided it was important for her to step up once again to help the ambulance service through a difficult time.

“At the start of the crisis, I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing,” said Tallulah.

“So I contacted the place where I had my two week placement and offered my support as a volunteer.

“Thanks to the training I received two years ago, I was able to get straight back into it.”

Tallulah’s job included a number of different tasks such as supporting the ambulance crews and making sure they have the correct equipment for every job.

She also ensured the ambulances had been cleaned and sanitised.

While her job was often behind the scenes, the incidents the service faced had an impact on Tallulah.

“It’s been an eye opener for me,” said Tallulah.

“Some incidents and stories did get to me, but I am only human and it would be strange if they didn’t.

“But the ambulance service is a like a massive family, we are all there to support each other.”

It was her fellow crew that helped keep the youngster going.

“I think it was the people who I was working with that were my motivation,” said Tallulah.

“I got to talk to the paramedics, you are not left in the dark about what you are cleaning up after.

“Also the ambulance service humour is quite dark but I think it has to be.”

The ambulance service were impressed with the work Tallulah did during the initial pandemic outbreak that they asked her to stay on with a three-month paid contract.

“Although I started as a volunteer, I was offered a three-month paid contract – paid or not – it didn’t matter – I just wanted to do my bit,” said Tallulah.

“This whole experience has confirmed that this is what I want to do in the future.”

Tallulah will return to college in the autumn to continue with her studies but hopes to be able to continue to help the station when she can, particularly once she is able to drive.

She hopes that she will be able to go to the University of East Anglia in Norwich to study paramedic science.

Her ultimate dream is to be a critical care paramedic working on air ambulances.

“The places are quite limited,” she said.

Tallulah’s work has also been recognised by her school, One Sixth Form, who gave her an award in the form of a certificate and a £20 Amazon voucher during a virtual awards ceremony.

Curriculum administrator at One, Hannah Gentile, said: “Everyone at One is proud of Tallulah, and how she reached out to the community.

“She deserves this recognition.”

Tallulah said: “Being recognised by the college makes me feel proud in myself for what I have achieved.”

Darren Jones, group lead for make-ready services in Suffolk and North Essex at the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “Tallulah excelled in her role as a make ready operative and we are very thankful to her for helping us at short notice at the height of the pandemic.

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