Virgin Atlantic crew member swaps flights for 999 calls during COVID-19 pandemic

Anna Parker Virgin Atlantic Crew Member
Image from Anna Parker
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
27 May 2020

With most of Virgin Atlantic’s planes grounded since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of their people have taken on new roles to help fight the virus. One of those is Anna Parker, who has worked for the airline for 20 years. We caught up with her to find out more.

Anna has left behind her Virgin uniform and taken on a role as a 999 emergency medical advisor at South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb). She has taken calls from people facing medical emergencies and sent help out to them.

“A lot of the skills are transferable from my role onboard,” Anna said. “As cabin crew, I already have basic medical training and I’m trained to respond in emergency situations. It’s good to put that training into practice at SECAmb.”

The work at SECAmb is tough. It’s long hours, which Anna’s used to as a flight service manager. She said: “We're working 10 or 12-hour shifts but it is a different kind of work.

“Some of the calls we're handling are hard emotionally, we’re dealing with people who are really unwell. It's tough in all aspects. Every call you take you think 'what is coming now?'”

Image from Anna Parker
Image from Anna Parker

One call Anna said has really stuck with her came from the husband of a woman who had a bad head injury. “She was the same age as my mum. We got an ambulance out to her straight away and she was taken to an intensive care unit. The trouble is you never find out what happens, you can see what treatment they get from the ambulance service but that's all you know.”

The support Anna has received from SECAmb has been “phenomenal” when she’s had to deal with tough calls. “They are so encouraging and they're 100 per cent supporting us. They have been amazing,” she said. “It's a really unique role because it's a rollercoaster of emotions. When you help someone you feel so relieved because you've made a difference to them. You've helped someone and you've possibly saved a life.”

Anna said she’s pleased to have been able to help SECAmb during the pandemic. “It's been an incredible opportunity. There are more people calling the service than before so it’s about helping to manage calls related to coronavirus, as well as the regular calls. We're helping them to make sure their employees aren't too stretched.”

Read more about how Virgin Atlantic’s cabin crew and pilots have been helping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit Virgin Atlantic to find out more.