Maintenance | Helipad Fire and Rescue team and Maintenance

Martin and John

What are your roles here?
John: “We are one of two teams which are responsible for the helipad fire and rescue service and also general maintenance around the Royal Derby Hospital site. We work four days on and four off and of those four, two are spent on the helipad and two on maintenance.

“It’s our job to make sure the helipad is safe and secure and that if there was a fire, that it would be dealt with safely. We wear bleeps. When that goes off, we drop what we’re doing and make our way to the helipad. We get our firefighting kit on, throw the power switch to put the landing light on and go up to the landing pad.

“We are trained in CPR and can help if needed but it’s usually down to the paramedics and porters to make sure the casualty is safely taken down into the department of the hospital.

Martin: “Then, on the other two days, we are on maintenance duty. Every single sink that gets blocked, every single toilet throughout the whole hospital – that’s us sorting that out. You’ve got your air conditioning, your sinks, your trollies – every single tap in this place has to be run regularly to make sure it all works when it’s needed.

“It’s a big job but it’s really varied.”

Why did you want to do this job?
J: “We’ve both been working at Derby Hospitals for years. Before this we were stokers, looking after the coal-fired boilers at the old Derbyshire Royal Infirmary. When this hospital opened we came here and it was great to be able to be part of the helipad team. You’re part of something really exciting.”

What do you like about working at Derby Teaching Hospitals in particular?
M: “No two days are the same here. You’ve got the excitement of the helipad and then you’ve got maintenance, which can take you to any part of the hospital: you never know where you’ll end up at the start of the day.

“Our busiest time is summer. A lot of people might have assumed it was winter but no, summer is when people are out and about, getting into the kind of trouble which might need an air ambulance.

“We are regularly trained and there is really good scope for developing here. We get to go to East Midlands Airport for fire training, which is fun. And people do give us the odd thank you. I got a Pride of Derby Award recently which was unexpected. I was nominated for helping a patient who was on one of our rooftops. The staff nominate those awards along with patients so it’s a boost when you get one of those.”

Why did you decide to take part in the programme?
Martin: “Initially we weren’t going to do it. But we thought about it and saw that if we did, people watching might see that the hospital is not just about doctors and nurses. It’s about a team, like a big cake. You take one slice out of that cake and it’s not whole. We thought that if they were interested in showing what we did, it might be a programme worth being part of. There’s enough programs on about doctors and nurses but never jobs like ours.

“No matter if you’re chief executive or a cleaner, you’re as important as each other in a hospital.”

John: “We are all integral. If I knock off a boiler there’d be no heat, no sterilisation – it’d be crackers. So there’s all these parts to keep on top of around the building which are vital to it all working. If a patient can’t use a toilet for some reason it could be serious or it could be a question of dignity. Either way, they’ll remember it and their experience matters.

“We saw this programme as a way of showing how the work going on behind the scenes is just as important.”

How was it working with the camera and crew?
John: “It was awkward at first. The producer, Aiden, was very thorough, though. He would run through what he wanted to try and capture and we would just get on with it.

“They said they wanted to work the helipad into things because they knew it would draw viewers in a bit more. They did a lot of work with drones and captured a lot of footage of the helicopter coming in, so we were involved in all that. But they were equally interested in us fixing a toilet, too.

Martin: “It was very enjoyable. We made sure we were health and safety perfect in every shot and by the end we had become quite attached to the crew. They had spent so much time with us.”

How do you think viewers will react to the programme – especially the parts you appear in?
Martin: “I think there will be a lot of interest from people who perhaps didn’t realise that jobs like ours existed at the hospital. Like I say, people know doctors and nurses but we’ve got firefighters and maintenance and all sorts.

“I think it will open people’s eyes and give people a really informed view of what it takes to run a modern hospital.”

What are the moments you’ll remember from the experience?
John: “Early on we were down in the female changing rooms in A&E because there was a blocked sink. But the thing about this cubicle was that right next door was the changing room and they use common plumbing.

“Anyway, in the loos there are panels you lift off to get at the plumbing and we’re in there, sorting out this blockage, the crew is in there filming us and the consultant, Susie, was down there, right next door, in the changing rooms, getting ready, asking us if she looked okay to be on film. It was a bizarre moment.”