Close to my Herts: Gary Sanderson
PUBLISHED: 18:56 22 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:02 20 February 2013
Gary Sanderson, Communications manager for the East of England Ambulance Service, tells Louise McEvoy about the most challenging aspect of his job and why Stevenage holds a special place in his heart
How long have you been communications manager for the Ambulance Service, and what does the job involve?
I have been in the role for the last 10 years. I am responsible for all internal and external communications throughout the East of England, and the two main areas I cover are Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, communicating proactively and reactively to media about the role of the Ambulance Service at incidents. I also have a clinical background and still respond to 999 calls as and when required.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in media?
I previously worked on an ambulance and a fast response car based at Stevenage station and was getting frustrated with the way the Ambulance Service was portrayed in the public eye. I began to be proactive about our paramedics role at incidents, initially in the North Hertfordshire area. This role progressed and I eventually became the communications manager for the Trust.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
First and foremost is helping people in their time of need. I enjoy getting the right information into the Press about the good work of the paramedics in the community, and every day is completely different.
What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect?
Gathering the correct and precise information regarding a sensitive case such as a fatal road traffic collision or a murder can be very demanding. My role also requires me to attend coroners and crown courts to give evidence. Being the talking head at the scene of a major incident is challenging.
What do you think has been the most interesting job you have attended and why?
The one incident that will stick in my memory is back in 2007 when I was asked to go and assist and help out at the Tewkesbury floods in Gloucestershire. When I arrived with my two colleagues, we were confronted with a scene from a disaster movie. Cars were floating down the roads and people were living upstairs in their houses. It was a shock to see so many people stranded with their homes under several feet of water.
If you could change one thing about the Ambulance Service, what would it be and why?
The one main thing I would like to see changed is the publics perception about the service we provide in the community. Unfortunately there are members of the public who are unaware of the services we provide, apart from the 999 service, and they believe the majority of calls we attend require a blue light response, which is not the case.
What is your biggest ambition?
I feel I have completed all my ambitions in life. I have a beautiful family and a brilliant job.
If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would have liked to have met Bob Marley. The music and his words have travelled time and he is still as popular now as he was in the seventies.
Where do you live in Hertfordshire, and what do you most like about the area?
I live in the Martins Wood area of Stevenage with my wife Ruth, my two boys Harry and Teddy and my daughter Jade. I have grown up in Stevenage and it has everything at hand. I began my Ambulance Service career in the town and returned to the same station where I have an office.
Where is your favourite place in Hertfordshire and why?
There are numerous places in and around Hertfordshire that are appealing but Walkern is a place we are planning to live in the near future.