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There are dark days, says Prince William, on harrowing side of being air ambulance pilot

By Tony Jones

Published 21/09/2016

Prince William in the cockpit of an H145 helicopter
Prince William in the cockpit of an H145 helicopter

The Duke of Cambridge has talked about the “sad, dark moments” of his job as an air ambulance pilot — while a colleague joked he was a source of “good tips” on parenting.

William also revealed he enjoys working as part of the four-strong helicopter crew in contrast to his sometimes solo role as a member of the royal family.

The future king made the comments during an online BBC documentary chronicling his work as a pilot with East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) and the service the charity provides.

Sat in the open side door of an air ambulance with captain James Pusey, the Duke described the most difficult emergency he has attended since he began the job last summer.

He said: “I think my most challenging one was to do with burns.

“There’s one job in particular that was really quite nasty and I don’t know how the medical crew dealt with it either because they came to the rescue and did everything they (could) and sadly the casualty was beyond help.

“Yeah, there are some very sad, dark moments and you know we talk about it a lot.

“That’s the best way of dealing with some of the situations is you talk.”

William juggles his role as a pilot with his royal duties and on Saturday will travel to Canada with wife Kate and their children, Prince George, aged three, and 16-month-old Princess Charlotte, for an official eight-day trip.

The Duke and the captain shared a joke, with Mr Pusey saying about his colleague: “He’s very good with advice and parenthood — in terms of good tips.”

William laughed and replied: “Dishing out parent advice”.

The documentary has been released during National Air Ambulance Week and is described as a multi-media portrait of the EAAA and its staff. It has been produced by BBC Future, which provides in-depth coverage of science, health and technology stories.

The piece also features still photographs of the Duke at work and he is filmed refuelling a helicopter and helping to take equipment on board.

He also talks the audience through the process he and the captain follow once in the air as they work out how best to reach someone in need.

The Duke and Mr Pusey also talked about the importance of “banter” during the working day. William said: “It helps de-stress and it also brings us together.

“Because if you share the same, in some cases, sad incidents then, if you can get over it together, by being able to talk about it in the future, being a close team you come away with a collective way of dealing with it together and (it) helps you move on to whatever you’ve got to do next.”

The Duke spoke about the value of his work with the charity — something that was different to his role supporting the Queen and his charitable interests as a member of the royal family.

He said: “It’s rewarding when I come here to do this job and I really look forward to coming here every day, whether it’s at 5.30am or going to bed at two in the morning.

“The shift work is still exciting and challenging for its variety more than anything and the fact that I love working in a team.

“And that’s something that my other job doesn’t necessarily do.

“You’re more out there on your own a little bit but I very much enjoy working with the likes of James and the team and it’s good fun.”

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