A SOLDIER inspired by his work with the Welsh Ambulance Service during the Covid-19 pandemic has left the Army to pursue a career as a paramedic.

Ranger Bernard McHugh, of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, was one of a 100 British Army soldiers who supported the Trust’s Covid-19 effort by driving and decontaminating ambulance vehicles at the height of the pandemic.

The 23-year-old enjoyed his tasking so much that he has since secured a job as an urgent care assistant in Bangor and will take up post in November.

Rgr McHugh said: “I’ve always known that I wanted a public service role, whether that’s in the police, fire or ambulance service.

“As a teenager I volunteered for Ireland’s Civil Defence, which supports frontline emergency services, and it was here that the spark to join the ambulance service was first ignited.

“I went to college to be an emergency medical technician, but the opportunity to join the Army presented itself and it was too good to pass up.”

Since joining the Royal Irish Regiment in 2016, Rgr McHugh has served in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s Force Protection, and has also been deployed to Norway on a large-scale exercise.

His role supporting the Welsh Ambulance Service through the Covid-19 pandemic was to drive ambulances in the Caernarfon area, freeing up paramedics to treat patients.

He said: “It was on the way to a road traffic collision one day that the spark was re-ignited, and that’s when I knew it was what I wanted to do.

“It was the first trauma call I’d been to and I thought I handled it very well.

“Emotionally it didn’t get the better of me and that’s when I started to think seriously about pursuing a career in the service.

“I enjoy helping people, and when patients thank you for what you’ve done, it’s such a rewarding feeling.”

Rgr McHugh, originally from County Tipperary, Ireland, will relocate to North Wales in the autumn with his partner, who has also secured a job as a healthcare assistant.

He said: “It’s been a life-changing decision to relocate, but my family and friends are over the moon for me – my family in particular have always encouraged me to pursue a career in paramedicine.

“When I went back to Caernarfon station to tell the crews I’d been working with that I got the job, they were thrilled. They’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

“I’m joining as an urgent care assistant, which I’m really happy about, but the end goal is to be a paramedic.

“I know that will take time but I’m willing to work hard.”

Lee Brooks, Director of Operations at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We’re thrilled that Rgr McHugh has decided to pursue a career in the ambulance service, if a little sore from the ribbing we’ve had from our military colleagues for poaching one of theirs.

“Rgr McHugh brings with him a wealth of experience which will stand him in excellent stead as an urgent care assistant serving communities in North Wales, and we look forward to him joining the family.”

Major Nigel Campbell, 1 Royal Irish Second in Command, added: “The Welsh Ambulance Service has gained a dedicated and resilient individual who will undoubtedly become an important member of their team.

“We wish Rgr McHugh all the best in his new career and thank him for this service.”

Earlier this month, the Trust presented a commemorative plaque to Royal Irish Regiment troops at Clive Barracks in Tern Hill, Shropshire, as a thank you for their support.

Ambulance Operations Manager Heather Ransom, who made the presentation, said: “We have a long-standing relationship with the military and were very fortunate to have enlisted their support through the pandemic.

“Having them on board put us in the best possible position during what has been probably the most challenging period in our history.

“Their presence was well received by colleagues and patients alike, and we were thrilled to visit the barracks and present them with a token of our appreciation.”

Major Campbell added: “Working with the women and men of the Welsh Ambulance Service during Operation Rescript was an honour.

“Our teams were made to feel welcome from the beginning and it was great to see how our skill set was able to translate so well to a different and challenging situation.

“Our soldiers learnt valuable lessons during their time in Wales that will serve them well in the future.

“It was a pleasure to welcome some of the ambulance service team to Tern Hill to show our appreciation for all the hard work they have done and continue to do.”

More than 20,000 military personnel were tasked with supporting public services across the UK during the pandemic as part of Operation Rescript.

At the height of the pandemic, the Welsh Ambulance Service was also supported by soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Rifles and 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh.

The military’s support of the ambulance service, under what is known as Military Aid to the Civil Authorities, has now drawn to a close.