Duke of Cambridge clocks on for first shift with emergency helicopter covering Fenland and East Anglia area
- Credit: PA
The Duke of Cambridge has said he hopes juggling fatherhood, royal duties and his new job as an East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) pilot will help him become a “grounded individual”.
Fenland people unfortunate to be involved in a serious accident could find themselves being helped by the royal after William clocked on for his first shift, based at Cambridge Airport, and admitted he was experiencing first-day nerves.
The air ambulance serves this area attending incidents where patients need a doctor and critical care paramedic at the scene or where the patient’s location is difficult to reach by a land ambulance.
There was little time to settle in as William and his crew-mates were dispatched on their first emergency call-out. The charity is expected to release more details of this incident later.
Speaking at the start of his shift, the Duke said he was “fantastically excited” and was looking forward to working with a “very professional bunch of guys and girls”.
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He added that he was enjoying being a father-of-two following the birth of Princess Charlotte in May but described Prince George, who will turn two on July 22, as “a little monkey”.
William said of his new job: “It’s sort of a follow-on from where I was in the military with my search and rescue role.
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“There are many of the same kind of skills and a job like this is very worthwhile, valuable and there’s an element of duty.
“It’s an important area for me to be involved in to continue my career and training.
“For me it’s a really important point to be grounded. I feel doing a job like this really helps me to be grounded and that’s the core of what I’m trying to become.
“I’m trying to be a good guy, to do what I can and trying to be a decent individual.”
William will balance the new job with his royal duties and, while he admitted this brought with it certain pressures, he said he was confident he could make it work.
“At some point there’s going to be a lot more responsibility and pressure but at the moment I’m juggling it and enjoying it,” he added.
“While I’m still relatively young, I will manage the two jobs the best I can.”
Asked about the birth of Charlotte, he said: “It’s been fantastic, she’s been a little joy from heaven.
“At the same time there is a lot of responsibility especially when George is around - he’s been a little monkey. It’s no more difficult than what everyone else has to do.”
William and his crew-mates began the day by checking over the H145 helicopter he will fly.
He will work alongside pilot Captain Dave Kelly, Dr Gemma Mullen and paramedic Tim Daniels.
William told reporters: “It’s my first day and I’m feeling the nerves.
“We’re starting off on a wet Cambridge day, but I’m really looking forward to getting started.
“It’s been a lot of effort and patience in training but we’re here now and I’m looking forward to doing the job.”
William will work a nine-and-a-half-hour shift as part of a four days on, four off rota.
To allow for royal duties, he will complete about two-thirds of the normal shift pattern but he is expected to work a full rota in the early months of the role to allow him to settle in.
His first duties included carrying out safety checks and refuelling the aircraft before taking part in a team briefing.
The crew will be on call to deploy to emergencies, ranging from road traffic collisions to cardiac arrests and sporting injuries, within 25 minutes.
William will also be expected to work late shifts, running from 4.30pm to midnight.
The former RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot is already qualified to captain or pilot a Sea King helicopter.
Before beginning with the EAAA he took part in a civilian pilot course before undergoing training in flying the specific helicopters used by the service, as well as a dedicated 999-response course.
He will initially work as a co-pilot but will become a full pilot once he has completed enough flying hours.
He took unpaid leave in April after the first phase of his training but has now returned to work following the birth of Princess Charlotte.
William will be paid a salary for the role, all of which will be donated to charity.
With the average mission costing £2,800 to fly, it costs £7m a year to keep the air ambulance in our skies.
Last year, the aircraft flew 1,785 missions - 1,115 of them from Cambridge, where Prince William will be based.
Road accidents accounted for 467 calls, while the air ambulance also attended 319 heart attacks, 299 medical emergencies and 194 falls in 2014.
A doctor, paramedic and equipment not carried on board a land ambulance are carried on each flight.
An air ambulance is scrambled where a patient’s injury is so severe that a doctor and critical care paramedic are needed at the scene, or the patient is somewhere difficult to reach by land ambulance.