Kyle Peebles, Emergency Care Assistant, North East Ambulance Service

Find out how Kyle became an Emergency Care Assistant

After experiencing a tough time at school Kyle Peebles, 20 from Gateshead, found his calling through an apprenticeship with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS). Kyle has overcome a number of personal and professional challenges, such as a stutter, to become an award-winning apprentice. His hard work and perseverance has been recognised and awarded on a number of occasions – including at the National Apprenticeship Awards, North East 2016. Kyle is now in a full-time position at NEAS as an Emergency Care Assistant. He spends every day doing a job he loves thanks to his apprenticeship – and hopes to one day become a paramedic.

Finding his feet

As a shy teenager, Kyle Peebles often found the academic and social pressures of school difficult to navigate. Having a stutter meant that Kyle could sometimes find talking to people challenging and public speaking difficult, and thus found it tough to prove himself academically. Kyle also experienced bullying and upon leaving school in 2012 with his GCSEs, he felt uncertain about his abilities and low in confidence as he entered the working world.

Kyle, like many young people, left school unsure about what he wanted to do. He first took on an apprenticeship as a plasterer, to earn money, gain a qualification, and utilise his skills as a more ‘hands-on’ person. Soon realising the industry wasn’t for him, Kyle started a job in retail. This role tested his abilities, and he quickly realised he had a knack for engaging with and helping customers.

Kyle’s parents, who both work in health and social care, encouraged Kyle to use his caring and empathetic nature to consider pursuing a career in healthcare. Spotting an Intermediate Apprenticeship with the Patient Transport Service with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) in the local newspaper, Kyle immediately applied and started as a Patient Transport Service apprentice in April 2015, where his main role was to assist staff in supporting patients to and from their hospital appointments.

Kyle explains: “Doing an apprenticeship that deals so directly and personally with patients, was something I could have never pictured doing when I was at school. I spend every day talking to patients, building a rapport, and making them feel at ease in situations which can sometimes be distressing for them. For example, we can be doing anything from transporting people with mental health issues to helping those who struggle with mobility.”

Challenging times

Although Kyle immediately threw himself wholeheartedly into his apprenticeship, he maintains it was not without its ups and downs. He explains: “I initially really struggled with juggling both the learning and working side of my apprenticeship. I would spend four days a week, 8am-6pm, driving around in the ambulance with patients and found it difficult to get to grips with the coursework side of the apprenticeship when I was at home.”

However, Kyle was determined to succeed and gained much support and encouragement from his colleagues. He elaborates: “Part of my apprenticeship required me to pass my driving theory so I could gain a C1 qualification to drive the ambulance. I had failed a few times and I was getting really frustrated, but my team kept reassuring me and were even prepared to start a collection help me fund it if I failed again.”

In fact, Kyle’s dedication to his apprenticeship has been recognised on a number of occasions; winning two awards (including ‘Most Committed’) at the Health Education North East (HENE) Apprenticeship Awards and Highly Commended at the National Apprenticeship Awards, North East, in 2016. Kyle quips: “I think I was recognised as ‘Most Committed’ because I spent my first few weeks of my apprenticeship wearing size 10 boots – I’m a size 13! They didn’t have any shoes my size but I was so determined to get the job done that I just decided to get on with it!”

The realities of the role of working with the ambulance service is also something which Kyle has had to come to terms with. Part of Kyle’s apprenticeship involved first aid courses and how to use a defibrillator but, despite the comprehensive training, Kyle explains you can never quite be prepared for the first time you have to use these skills in a serious situation.

Pursuing a passion

Despite the many challenges, Kyle has truly blossomed as an individual due to his apprenticeship. He became the first apprentice at NEAS to secure a permanent position with the organisation before his apprenticeship had finished, securing the role ahead of a number of candidates with more experience.

After working as a Patient Transport Service assistant, Kyle has now progressed to become an Emergency Care Assistant, a role which he is thoroughly enjoying and which is helping him get closer to his ambition of becoming a paramedic.

He explains: “Working in the Patient Transport Service was a really important platform for me to start planning my future career, and I’m so grateful to my team and mentors who have been so supportive. At first, I wasn’t sure whether I should apply for Emergency Care, because I loved working in the Patient Transport Service so much. But my new role is now helping me to make even more of a positive difference in people’s lives, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Now, I want to spend time building my experience in Emergency Care before I move on to the next step, so that I have as much knowledge and experience as possible when I apply to become a paramedic. I’m only 21 after all!” To support him in this ambition, NEAS have enrolled Kyle on another level 3 apprenticeship in Clinical Healthcare Support to help him gain the necessary qualifications to apply.

Infectious enthusiasm

Kyle says: “My apprenticeship has really made me who I am today. It’s allowed me to discover who I am and given me the biggest boost in confidence I could ever ask for. I think it is this, along with the fantastic training and support I have received from the ambulance service, that propelled me into a full-time role much earlier than I expected.”

Kyle’s enthusiasm and love for his role is infectious and he is keen for others to understand the huge personal and professional benefits an apprenticeship can bring. The fact you earn a qualification, build experience and life skills at such a young age is what makes an apprenticeship so worthwhile. I’ve encouraged lots of people to apply for an apprenticeship and am always keen to share the positive experience I’ve had with NEAS. I want to make a difference people’s careers as well as their health and wellbeing too!”

He concludes: “I’m in my dream role, helping people every single day, and it’s all thanks to my apprenticeship. I would really encourage others to go for it and to not be held back by being nervous or worried. My apprenticeship has given me fantastic training, incredible support and newfound sense of confidence and I couldn’t be more grateful.”