It’s the one day of the year where many people are away from work, spending time with their loved ones at home. But for the emergency services, Christmas Day is just like any other day.

Whilst Wales wakes up to magical scenes reminiscent of a festive fairy-tale, a group of hardworking dedicated individuals will be signing on for a twelve-hour shift in readiness to respond to emergencies across Wales.

For the crews of Helimed 57, 59, 61 & 67, Christmas Day is just another day in the big red flying office.

On board on the Charity’s Dafen-based aircraft on Christmas Day, this year will be Welsh Flying Medics Dr Ian Bowler, Critical Care Practitioner Rhyan Curtin along with Pilot, Jennifer Stevenson. 

Speaking about his upcoming festive shift, Dr Ian Bowler said: “The day will begin as I leave the house to travel to Dafen, arriving around 07:45am. After a morning brief with the rest of the crew, it’s down to business. We’ll generally get on with the usual day-to-day base duties which includes checking and replenishing equipment, training and preparing for the phone to ring at any point. We try to make the most of Christmas Day until a call comes in. As soon as that phone rings, it’s like any other day. 

“I actually offered to work on Christmas Day this year as my three children are older, so it allows fellow colleagues to spend important time with their families. My family and I will settle down to a hearty Christmas lunch the day before and I’ll be lucky enough to spend time with them after my twelve-hour shift.


“I’ve worked Christmas Day many times previously, it certainly is quite special being on shift during the one day of the year where a large number of people are away from their usual jobs. In a funny sort of way, we’re quite lucky to be working Christmas Day as people are very kind and usually deliver lots of treats to help pass the time. I’m especially looking forward to a wholesome Christmas Dinner this year, made all that more special as it will be shared with my fellow colleagues.”


Alongside the Welsh Flying Medics, Babcock Pilot Jenny Stevenson will be flying the Charity’s H145 emergency helicopter. Jenny, who has previously flown with the East Anglian Air Ambulance, is the first female Air Ambulance pilot to reach the rank of Captain in the UK.

Talking about flying with Wales Air Ambulance on Christmas Day, Jenny said: “The day starts early; I like to get ahead of the game, so a first check of the day’s weather is essential. The priority then is getting the aircraft ready for the day ahead. That will usually involve doing a fuel check, an engine wash, checking there are no event-related flying restrictions and then we all get together for our ‘morning brief’.

“Following the first cup of coffee, at around 08:20 AM we all get together as a crew and discuss the day ahead including looking closely at the weather and how (if at all) it is likely to affect our ability to respond by air. This is a crucial discussion as it gives the medics an idea as to whether they will need to prepare to respond to a call by road.

“After our morning brief, there’s plenty to be getting on with, whether its answering emails, catching up on admin or keeping on top of studies. Everything stops though when that phone rings.

“I don’t mind working on Christmas day and volunteered my services this year to allow other crew members to enjoy some much-needed family time. Living in Cambridgeshire but staying in South Wales throughout the festive period will be tough as my fellow colleagues will be able to return to their families after work. Despite not seeing my family until a few days later, I wouldn’t have it any other way and it is an honour to be able to be there for the people of Wales when they need us most.


“I always enjoy being in Wales and consider myself very lucky to be flying for Wales Air Ambulance during the festive period. I’m looking forward to what is usually a fairly relaxed environment on base in between missions. The sense of comradery between crew members really is fulfilling as we’re very much in this together. I’m especially looking forward to our Christmas dinner this year.”


Three other aircraft will also be crewed and ready to respond to emergencies across Wales. On board the Charity’s Welshpool and Caernarfon-based aircraft will be Welsh Flying Medics, Dr Matt O’Meara, along with Critical Care Practitioners, Ian Thomas, Kat Lynch, and Olly Ayles. Additionally, the Charity’s fourth aircraft – Children’s Wales Air Ambulance, based at Cardiff Heliport will also be staffed by Helicopter Transfer Practitioner, Andrew Morris.