NHS family affairs – mother and son work together as ambulance crew
Darran Billings says he has to remember to call his mother by her name and not ‘mum’.
A life-saving mother and son duo have been paired up to work together as ambulance crew.
Paramedic Linda Cray and her son Darran Billings occasionally work shifts together for London Ambulance Service (LAS).
Mr Billings said he has to remember to call his mother by her name and not “mum” when they work together.
Ms Cray, 61, was one of the first women to join LAS and has now taken on the role of training others to do the job – including her own son.
Ms Cray from Hainault, east London, started her career in 1982 as a technician and has risen through the ranks to become a paramedic and now a trainer.
The single mother of two boys inspired her son Mr Billings – who joined the service as an emergency ambulance crew with aspirations to become a paramedic.
She said: “I went for an interview to drive ambulances – I got the job and never looked back.
“There was no technology and we didn’t have any drugs. We only had oxygen and Entonox – we didn’t even carry aspirin. You really had to think on your feet.
“It was very much scoop and run, compared to nowadays when there’s a lot of care and treatment given at scene and carry equipment to do electrocardiograms and defibrillators to save people in cardiac arrest.”
Mr Billings, 30, said: “As I was growing up I was always around mum and her colleagues and she really inspired me and I saw just how much she enjoyed it.
“It was all I ever wanted to be. I love doing what I do – each day is completely different and I love meeting new people.”
While she still does ambulance shifts, Ms Cray’s main role now is as a trainer.
The pair are given the occasional shift on an ambulance together.
One of their most memorable shifts was their first together when they attended a patient suffering from cardiac arrest.
Mr Billings, from Becontree, east London, added: “When I have been crewed with her, I’m always amazed at the knowledge she has.
“The only strange thing was when we’re crewed together, remembering to call her Linda, not mum.”