England

East Midlands Ambulance Service makes paramedic chaplain

Kevin Charles, EMAS chaplain
Image caption Paramedic Kevin Charles was ordained six years ago

A paramedic who also works as a priest has been appointed the chaplain of his ambulance service.

Kevin Charles was ordained six years ago while working for East Midlands Ambulance Service.

He is believed to be the first paramedic in the country to be appointed chaplain to his colleagues.

The Reverend Charles said his role was to help fellow paramedics deal with "phenomenal" levels of stress caused by increasing pressure on staff.

He said he removes his dog collar when called out on emergencies to avoid alarming patients.

Mr Charles, who is an associate priest in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, said he offered a "listening ear" to his "flock" of ambulance workers across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.

Image caption The Reverend Charles says he helps paramedics deal with increasing levels of stress

"The stress of what's being placed upon these guys is phenomenal," he said.

"Some of the staff might be attending a job that might bring memories back from other incidents therefore they need the support where they can offload.

"We're getting job after job after job and we're not being able to get back to support and debrief one another - that is one of the provisions I am able to provide for them."

The chaplain said it was "humbling" to have been appointed to the role.

As a qualified paramedic, he can still be dispatched on emergency calls.

"I remove the dog collar," he said. "I think it will be very frowned upon or very puzzling if they regain consciousness and they see a priest there with a dog collar on."

Image caption The ambulance service chaplain offers pastoral support to staff

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