Today's hero: A rescue worker with the German Red Cross
Stephanie Thomson, a paramedic with the German Red Cross in Hannover, talks about how she deals with the pressures of her job.8 Jun 2015
What does it take to be a rescue worker?
Stephanie Thomson: You need to be a 'team player' and have strong self-confidence. Plus you need to be willing to work flexible hours because your work roster can change at any time. That's unavoidable because the Red Cross is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But more than anything, a good rescue worker needs to have empathy – while at the same maintaining a safe emotional distance. You can’t afford take your work home with you.
So, is it more than just a job? Is it a true calling?
Stephanie Thomson: It's a wonderful profession to be in, that's for sure. And for me it's not actually about the road accidents themselves; what really touches my heart is the human aspect. Accidents affect people, they affect families. And that's why it is a great privilege to be able to help.
Why a rescue worker? Why did you join the Red Cross?
Stephanie Thomson: I wanted a job that would allow me to work independently, that would allow me to grow and develop as a person. And I've always been interested in medicine. So the emergency rescue services were the obvious choice.
How do you deal with the stress of the job?
Stephanie Thomson: My dog. He's my rock. Taking him for a run is a great way to switch off, work out and clear my mind of the day's stresses.
Do rescue workers have special responsibilities as role models? Do you see yourself as a role model?
Stephanie Thomson: Yes, of course one has to be a role model. As well as working as a paramedic, I'm also a rescue service training assistant and will soon qualify as a training coordinator. That involves supporting the young trainee emergency rescue workers, taking them through many different aspects of the job and enabling them to learn the most important stuff through on-the-job experience. So in that sense I really am a role model.
Does your commitment to rescuing others stop when you're off duty and out of uniform?
Stephanie Thomson: No. You're still the same person, uniform or no uniform. Helping others is a calling, a passion, so if you see someone in need, you instinctively help them. That simple "thank-you" from the victim or their family is priceless – it's all the reward you need.
What advice do you have for people who might be considering a career in the emergency rescue services?
Stephanie Thomson: Be flexible. We're always delighted to welcome new people. You need to be passionate about rescue work, of course, but you also need to be extremely flexible.
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