Women’s History Month Spotlight: Abi Wild

In honor of Women's History Month, Bristow is shining a spotlight on the women who make Bristow soar. This interview features Bristow Search and Rescue (SAR) Winch Paramedic Abi Wild, currently based in the UK.

Talk about your role at Bristow and what are you currently working on?
I am a SAR winch paramedic. This role requires me to provide medical assistance and lifesaving treatment to medically ill and traumatically injured patients. I recently passed my annual line check, and I am now working towards passing my night vision goggle course and exams.

What is a recent success you're particularly proud of?
Passing my annual line check, obtaining a grade A in the anaesthetics module of my Master's program and achieving a personal best in my ultra-marathon training of 50km in 5 hours 4 minutes. Each of these took a lot of hard work and dedication, and I am incredibly proud to have achieved these accomplishments.

What in your background prepared you for this assignment?
I worked as a paramedic in an ambulance crew Manchester for five years, then as a hazardous area response team (HART) paramedic in Bristol and Exeter. These roles gave me extensive experience to prepare me for my current duties. In these positions, I learned swift water rescue and working at height, among many other specialities and enhanced clinical skills. Traveling to remote locations as an expedition medic and joining the Newquay lifeboat crew was also advantageous for this role. I have also completed a degree in Paramedic Science, and I am currently studying on a Master's programme in Pre-hospital Critical Care at the University of Stavanger in Norway. 

What are some challenges you've faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
Lone working, difficult decision making, hazardous extractions, rescuing casualties from irrespirable atmospheres, working in gas tight suits, working in warm zones of firearms incidents, working in Salisbury for four months during the Novichok nerve agent poisoning response in 2018, and all the aviation assessments/training I have had to complete for my current role. These are just some of the challenges I've had to face head-on in my career, but I conquered each challenge, one by one. Ensuring my clinical knowledge is current and that I am a competent paramedic gives me a strong foundation to overcome challenges in my role. I have also embraced opportunities to train and enjoy maintaining an up-to-date clinical professional development portfolio.

Who inspires you (work, personal and / or historical)?
Bethany Hamilton is a huge inspiration to me. She is a professional surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack, but never let it stop her doing anything she loves. Anna McNuff is an adventurer who explores the world by human power – her journeys and thinking are a true inspiration. Ben Fogle's sporting achievements in an array of challenging environments and passion for self-sufficiency and protection of the wilderness/world are also huge inspirations for me.

What advice do you have for women just beginning their career?
If you believe it, you can achieve it.
Everything worth having is worth working hard for.
If you want something that badly, you can always achieve it.
Being a woman shouldn't make any difference or alter your mentality when you set out to achieve your dreams!

When I was 19 years old, I packed cherry tomatoes in a big fridge on a farm in Australia to earn my second working holiday visa. I was surrounded by women working 14-hour days, six days a week, who openly admitted they disliked their jobs, which made them unhappy. I also disliked the job and knew there was more to life. I realized that, to live a life I loved, I would have to ensure I was always doing something that made me happy. So, I made a plan to achieve my dream of becoming a paramedic. It wasn't easy and involved re-taking classes and certifications, successfully completing new course, holding down three jobs and volunteering for the ambulance service in any spare time I found, just to be in a position to apply for the university paramedic course. I believed I could achieve it and enjoyed the educational journey. When things didn't quite go as planned, I focused on the positives and every goal I achieved made me realize all the hard work was worthwhile. Since starting this journey and leaving the tomato farm, I don't feel I have "worked" a day in my life, because I love what I do and the life I have makes me very happy.

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Abi Wild

What is unique about your journey to your current role?
I have been lucky in that I have always known what I wanted to do in life. I believe this knowledge and passion stemmed from my time as a lifeguard at the age of 16 and wanting to be able to do more for casualties. Going back even further, I do remember my parents taking me to a teddy bear picnic when I was around five years old and meeting the local ambulance crew. I was fascinated as I toured the ambulance and learned about what they did every day as paramedics.

I set out a roadmap at the age of 19, with a plan for achieving the position I have today. I set goals and planned each step to achieve each goal. It's been a fun-filled journey and I've learned a lot along the way. I am also proud to say that I was one of the first four winch paramedics to complete the Bristow cadetship.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my spare time, I love surfing and I'm happy to say I get to surf almost every day! I also love running and competing in long-distance events and triathlons. Mountain climbing, snowboarding, swimming, travelling, photography, wild camping, drinking coffee and spending time with friends and family are also at the top of my list!