Newly recruited firefighter from Whitley Bay says past career as a nurse in Cramlington will help in new role

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A former nurse says his healthcare experience is helping him face a new challenge after becoming a firefighter.

Rhys Johnstone, from Whitley Bay, joined Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service after six years working on the cardiology ward at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington.

Rhys, 28, said: “It is very different to life on the ward, I was used to dealing with people who had already been through A&E before getting to me, but now I am the one giving that first response.

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“My nursing background I think will help when I am talking to people in emergency situations. Keeping them calm is something I am good at.”

Rhys Johnstone is fulfilling his dream of being a firefighter. (Photo by TWFRS)Rhys Johnstone is fulfilling his dream of being a firefighter. (Photo by TWFRS)
Rhys Johnstone is fulfilling his dream of being a firefighter. (Photo by TWFRS)

Rhys did well in the recruitment and training process, in part due to his existing understanding of emergency services, and was able to help other trainees work on their trauma care skills.

He is now based at Swalwell Community Fire Station near Metrocentre in Gateshead.

The soon-to-be father said: “There is a lot to take on board on the recruits course and sometimes you do want to give up but your course mates help you through it.

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“I almost lost a bit of hope after being put on the reserve list because you do not know what is going to happen, but I am so glad I got the call because it came at the perfect time for me and my family.

“There are ups and downs on this course but you have got to enjoy them. The highs are so high and the lows can be so low but the people on your course will get you through it.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Lynsey McVay said “Rhys’s background in healthcare will be an excellent tool for him when he is out dealing with emergency situations with his watch.

“Not only does he have advanced training, he can provide support to his colleagues and help them expand their knowledge when it comes to our trauma care response before our blue light colleagues arrive at an incident.

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“It is great to see so many people on our recruits course who have taken the leap from very different roles to become firefighters.

“They have the ability to think differently about situations and bring experience from a range of different areas to their watch and our service.”