26 January 2022
Dr Pam Chrispin is retiring from East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) after 14 years with the life-saving charity and an incredible forty-year-medical-career.
Pam’s contributions to healthcare across East Anglia have been enormous, and she has proudly ‘kicked the door down for women’ along the way, becoming EAAA’s first ever female flying doctor in 2007, back when all of EAAA’s doctors were volunteers. In that time, Pam has helped to shape EAAA into the leading air ambulance service that it is today.
To mark Pam’s retirement, EAAA organised a surprise treasure hunt for her across Norfolk where she was reunited with lots of special people and patients from her medical career, reuniting her with old friends and colleagues along the way. This included a Police Guard of Honour at the Norfolk Police Training School thanks to Ch Insp Keith Philpot and team, as Pam has been a big part of the 999 family for many years.
Along the treasure hunt Pam was reunited with Tilly, a past patient of Pam’s, at the NARS HQ. Tilly was treated by Pam and the team four years ago when she was five and suffered a life-threatening asthma attack. Pam and the EAAA team were integral in stabilising Tilly, now nine, and getting her safely to hospital where she received life-saving treatment. Hayley, Tilly’s mum, said: “Without Pam’s involvement in Tilly’s care that day she might not be here now. We’re forever thankful to her and the rest of the EAAA team.”
At the end of the treasure hunt, back at the EAAA base in Norwich, Pam was reunited with a mother and child she helped to save in 2018. Emma Cavanagh from Royston was 37 weeks pregnant with Willow, now three, when she suffered a placental abruption, a serious complication putting both of their lives at risk. Emma was losing a lot of blood, Pam quickly diagnosed Emma’s condition and helped to get her to hospital in time for major surgery and for both lives to be saved.
Pam says she always thinks of Willow on her birthday. Emma Cavanagh added: "She’s our absolute hero. If it wasn’t for her we wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t have a precious family. She means the absolute world to us, so we feel so honoured that we’ve been asked to be here today for her retirement. I feel so proud that we can bring Willow here to see Pam again and she can see her. I know that Pam feels equally. Willow means the absolute world to her it’s just so lovely to be part of this."
In 2016 Pam was one of the first doctors to be formally employed by EAAA and in 2018 became EAAA’s first Deputy Medical Director, a post she will hold up until her retirement on 31st January, following a highly distinguished career.
Pam, who lives in Diss and is 62 years old, specialised as an anaesthetist and has sat on several medical boards across the region, including with the East of England Ambulance Service (Medical Director 2010 – 2013), West Suffolk Hospital (Medical Director 2014 – 2016) and continues to be a Non-Executive Director at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for Safeguarding, Maternity and Children and Young People.
In 2016 Pam had the honour of meeting HRH The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at the Cambridge Base Opening.
By flying with the air ambulance, Pam has helped countless patients over the last 14 years receive critical care in their hour of need, taking the hospital to the roadside or bedside. Through her role as Deputy Medical Director at EAAA, her legacy has involved helping the charity to better demonstrate how it is positively impacting patient’s care, by creating a formal governance structure, and in leading the clinical training and continuous education for EAAA’s doctors and critical care paramedics, nurturing the next generation. Throughout her clinical career, Pam also found time to volunteer as a doctor for Suffolk Accident Rescue Service, helping as many patients as possible receive life-saving care pre-hospital.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with EAAA, proving that a small middle-aged woman in glasses could do this job back in 2007 when it was, at the time, a job mainly carried out by men.”
Dr Pam Chrispin continued: "A lot has changed in the last 14 years, the service is now highly professional and the care we can deliver pre-hospital is simply amazing. EAAA has moved on from being a rapid way of taking people to hospital to bringing the hospital to them.
“It’s been a huge privilege for me personally to be able to help train the next generation of pre-hospital emergency medicine specialists and to see them leap-frogging me in terms of their skills, drive and ambition to continuously improve patient care through EAAA. It’s been wonderful and I am feeling very emotional about leaving, but I’ve done my bit and am delighted to pass the baton on to the next generation. I will miss everyone dearly but am looking forward to spending more time with my family.”
Dr Victor Inyang, Medical Director at EAAA, added: “Dr Pam Chrispin has been an inspirational leader and colleague at the East Anglian Air Ambulance. She has been at the core of developing our pre-hospital critical care service, which we are all proud of, and the underpinning clinical governance structure that ensures a high-quality service is delivered consistently to all our patients. A truly remarkable legacy. We wish her well in her next phase and thank her for the service she has given.”
Pam is retiring from EAAA but will carry on her role as a non-executive director at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and will work as an executive coach, while continuing her love for tennis, cycling, Liverpool FC and looking after her grandchildren.