'Our hero': East Anglian Air Ambulance's first female doctor retires

Dr Pam Chrispin deputy medical director for the East of England Ambulance Service.

Dr Pam Chrispin deputy medical director for the East Anglian Air Ambulance. - Credit: East Anglian Air Ambulance

The East Anglian Air Ambulance's first female doctor was reunited with people whose lives she had helped to save as she prepares to retire.

Dr Pam Chrispin, from Diss, is retiring from the EAAA after 14 years with the life-saving charity and a 40- year medical career.

To mark her retirement, the charity sent the 62-year-old on a surprise treasure hunt across Norfolk where she was reunited with patients, old friends and colleagues who she had helped over the years. 

Among them was nine-year-old Tilly who Dr Chrispin cared for four years ago when the then five-year-old suffered a life-threatening asthma attack.  

Dr Pam Chrispin deputy medical director for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Dr Pam Chrispin deputy medical director for the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Here she is pictured with Tilly who suffered a life-threatening Asthma attack in 2018. - Credit: East Anglian Air Ambulance

Along with the EAAA team, they were able to stabilise Tilly and get her safely to hospital where she received treatment.  

Speaking at the NARS HQ in Dereham, Hayley, Tilly’s mum, said: “Without Pam’s involvement in Tilly’s care that day she might not be here now. We’re forever thankful to her and the rest of the EAAA team.”   

At the end of the treasure hunt, back at the EAAA base in Norwich, Dr Chrispin was also reunited with a mother and child she helped to save in 2018.  

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Emma Cavanagh, from Royston, was 37 weeks pregnant with Willow, now three, when she suffered a serious complication putting both of their lives at risk.  

Dr Pam Chrispin deputy medical director for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Dr Pam Chrispin deputy medical director for the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Here she is pictured with baby Willow who she helped to save in 2018. - Credit: East Anglian Air Ambulance

But after Dr Chrispin’s quick diagnosis, the mum was rushed to hospital where she underwent major surgery. 

Ms Cavanagh added: "She’s our absolute hero. If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t have a precious family. She means the absolute world to us. We feel so honoured that we’ve been asked to be here today for her retirement.” 

As well as helping to save countless lives, during her career Dr Chrispin was able to “kick the door down for women” after she became the EAAA’s first ever female flying doctor in 2007. 

Dr Pam Chrispin deputy medical director for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Dr Pam Chrispin deputy medical director for the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Here she is pictured with baby Willow who she helped to save in 2018. - Credit: East Anglian Air Ambulance

In 2016, she was also one of the first doctors to be formally employed by EAAA and in 2018 she became the charity's first Deputy Medical Director - a title she will hold until her retirement on January 31.

Dr Chrispin specialised as an anaesthetist and has sat on several medical boards across the region including with the East of England Ambulance Service (medical director 2010 to 2013), West Suffolk Hospital (medical director 2014 to 2016) and continues to be a Non-Executive Director at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for Safeguarding, Maternity and Children and Young People.

She said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with EAAA, proving that a small middle-aged woman in glasses could do this job back in 2007 when it was, at the time, a job mainly carried out by men. 

“It’s been wonderful and I am feeling very emotional about leaving, but I’ve done my bit and am delighted to pass the baton on to the next generation.”