Of all the dramatic situations Prince William encountered as an ambulance plane pilot, one stands out to Dr. Neil Berry. “We landed on a three-lane roadway where a car accident involving multiple vehicles had happened,” recalls Dr. Berry.
“There was a very sick patient and we had to treat them at the side of the road before taking them to the hospital. William did everything he could to make that easier by pushing the stretcher through the cars so we could get to the ambulance. His aim was to provide the best care for the patient. ‘
William was a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance for two years between March 2015 and July 2017, and now Dr. Berry, an anesthesia counselor who went on rescue missions with William, and Patrick Peal, CEO of the EAAA, spoke exclusively. to Weekend about William’s time with them.
Dr. Berry, an anesthesia consultant, and Patrick Peal, CEO of the EAAA, shared fond memories of working with Prince William. Pictured: The Queen with the crew of the East Anglian Air Ambulance when she opened the new base in 2016. It was William’s suggestion, and she said she would do it as long as he was on duty that day
Not only was he a great pilot, they say, but he was also a brilliant team player at the scene of an accident – performing CPR as needed and easily talking to shocked bystanders on site to help them calm down.
Mr. Peal, one of the founders of the EAAA, became CEO in 2014 and discussions were already underway as to how William might get involved. “We had contacted him when he was granted the Duchy of Cambridge in 2011,” he recalls.
‘I went to his team and said we thought it would be possible for him to fly as a co-pilot from time to time, and they said,’ I think there is something you need to understand. William would like to work with you full time. “That was quite a surprise to say the least and it required a completely different approach.
‘He should become an employee of Babcock, which supplies our helicopters and pilots. But the more we looked at it, the more we realized he wanted to be treated like any other pilot. ‘
They knew William would have to fly with a Royal Protection Officer, but that was doable, Mr. Peal says.
A striking picture of William in action
‘It was just in time that we received a new Airbus H145 helicopter at the end of 2014 [the first of its type in the UK] it was much larger than its predecessor and could accommodate a crew of two pilots, as well as room for another companion. Wherever a senior member of the royal family goes, a security guard should go too. ‘
Captain William Wales completed four months of ground training at Norwich Airport before moving to Cambridge in July 2015. The base was two small offices next to the fire station and William had lunch with his colleagues in the staff canteen at the main airport. Dr. Berry met William during his first week in the cafeteria.
‘There was a bit of staring at him, but he did his job in a very professional way. He was brilliant on the base. He would know when to improve the mood and laugh. There are only four or five of us in a 12 hour shift, so we are very close. There was no air and grace around him, and he could make a good cup of tea. ‘
Patrick Peal says that William quickly puts those around him at ease. ‘He has a big smile and he is very good at talking to people. He also has a bad sense of humor that he keeps in check in public, but in the crew room, he was able to give as best he could. ‘
Although William insisted on being treated like everyone else, there was an opportunity he could put to good use his “connections.” In 2016, the EAAA had a new base built at Cambridge Airport to replace the old tight quarters.
When we asked who would open the new base, William said, ‘Grandma could do it,’ recalls Dr. Berry. “It took me a few seconds to realize who he meant by Grandma.”
Meanwhile, Patrick Peal had talks with Kensington Palace about which member of the royal family could do the opening.
Dr. Berry said William seemed proud that his grandparents came to meet his teammates and crew. In the photo: William showing his grandparents around a helicopter during their visit
“I said, ‘I know it wouldn’t be right to ask Prince William to open the base he’s flying from,’ and they said I was probably right. One of the team members said, “Why don’t you ask Her Majesty?” and I said, “I couldn’t do that, it’s a prefab building in the middle of an airport.”
“They said, ‘Try it, you might be surprised …” and we got the answer, “Her Majesty would be happy to open the new building, provided William was on duty that day.”
As promised, the Queen, along with the Duke of Edinburgh, arrived on July 13, 2016 to officially open the base. “We were split into two groups,” Dr. Berry recalls.
The Duke of Edinburgh went down on one side and the Queen on the other. William was on a mission and when he flew back, he just landed away from where we were and came to meet us. The queen’s expression was certainly a proud grandmother.
‘She is a lovely lady. I think the Duke of Edinburgh felt the same way. William seemed proud that his grandparents were coming to meet his teammates and crew. After the Queen and Prince Philip left, William continued his service.
Saying goodbye to Prince Philip after the visit
The EAAA has two helicopters – one in Cambridge, the other in Norwich – and they are said to receive about eight call-outs per day.
“When we landed, the pilots brought a kit from the helicopter to make the work of the clinical team easier,” says Dr. Berry. That would often be William. We got into multi-victim situations very often and William got stuck. The security guard would also help if needed. ‘
The crew had to know their stuff, but they also had to be mentally prepared for the traumatic things they might see. “It’s not for everyone, because you see a lot of bad things,” says Dr. Berry.
‘A doctor who sees injured people in the emergency room is in a sterile hospital environment. By comparison, seeing injuries where they occur, seeing family members and the looks on their faces is a much more emotional and sometimes overwhelming scenario. That’s why we train a lot. We are keen to select the right people. ‘
William spoke earlier this year about how his work at EAAA left him traumatized. Speaking to frontline workers online about their experiences with the pandemic, he said, “ When you see so many deaths and so much bereavement, it affects how you see the world.
‘You’re so drawn to it, and everyone is, it’s only natural that that would happen. It stays with you, at home it stays with you for weeks, doesn’t it? And you see the world as a much more, somewhat depressing, dark, blacker place. ‘
Often times, the EAAA’s callouts were at night, making them even more intense. “The pilots would have their night vision goggles on and there would be a very professional banter between them that brings us to the ground,” recalls Dr. Berry. “That is a very serious process.”
According to Patrick Peal, William was one of the best pilots they had. “I think it’s fair to say everyone recognized him as a great pilot,” said Mr. Peal.
And he was extraordinarily skilled in the field. He was very adept at CPR and it is often hands-on because the helicopter crew may be the first to arrive. If there is a very sick patient, urgent action is required.
But it can come as a bit of a surprise when people realize that the pilot is the future King of England. However, he was not always recognized as he would be in his pilot’s blue overalls and often wear sunglasses. ‘
William left the EAAA in July 2017 to focus on royal duties, but he remains a big part of ‘the family’, and Dr. Berry spoke to him on the day of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. “I recently lost grandparents,” he says. “I know my grandmother was proud of me and I’m sure his grandfather was proud of him.”