Meet Dr Mike - Great Western Air Ambulance Charity
“I have my son thanks to GWAAC” – Rach and Ollie’s story
June 5, 2024
“I have my son thanks to GWAAC” – Rach and Ollie’s story
June 5, 2024

On 9 May 2024, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Dr Mike Thompson worked his first shift with Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC). Dr Mike said, “GWAAC is an incredibly welcoming place to be working. The team have been keen to embrace me and get me trained up. It’s still early days so I’m bedding in and getting to grips with the way the service operates.”

Dr Mike has previously worked for other air ambulances and says, “What’s nice is the expectation from GWAAC that learning about the differences in how other air ambulances do things is all completely normal. I have lots of training planned and It’s exciting to be working for the service that is in the area that I live and work in now. GWAAC’s Doctors have been significantly involved in my training over the last decade.”

Originally from Surrey, Dr Mike went to university in Edinburgh and followed a pretty standard route of Emergency Medicine training in and around Bristol with a pre-hospital year in Cambridge. He then spent a year in Darwin, Australia, doing a mix of Emergency Medicine and Retrieval Medicine with the Northern Territory’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and flying doctor service.

When asked if he is a good flyer, Dr Mike said, “I actually have a pilot’s licence. I haven't kept my hours up though as it has been hard to fit them in around my training as a doctor, but I hope to get back into it.”

When asked why he wanted to work for GWAAC, Dr Mike said he was hugely inspired by GWAAC’s Critical Care Team early on in his career. In October 2015, he was running in the Bristol Half Marathon when another runner had a cardiac arrest 50 metres ahead of him. Dr Mike gave basic life support and St John’s volunteers used a defibrillator, but it was the GWAAC Team who successfully got a pulse back, delivered an anaesthetic and took the patient to the Heart Institute at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

The patient, called Bill, was discharged a few days later from hospital. Dr Mike said, “The set of interventions was a real success. What you can do pre-hospital is quite amazing and seeing the GWAAC Team working in that setting whilst I was a Junior Doctor was very inspiring. GWAAC’s Dr Ed Valentine phoned me that evening to tell me the outcome and he agreed to do an educational thing for me that I needed as a trainee. It was a really nice touch. From there, I was able to get to know a few of the Doctors and get involved with some projects with them over the years, with a plan of hopefully getting to be part of the team one day.”

Four years later, Dr Mike had a surprising reunion with Bill whilst working at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Bill was receiving further cardiac treatment: “Bill said to me, ‘Are you Mike Thompson? You saved my life at the Bristol Half in 2015.’ It was quite emotional, a tear-jerking moment.’ Bill recovered well again and recently confirmed, “Apart from a sprained ankle, I’m fully fit.” He went on to say, In my calendar, I have declared 13 September as ‘Dr Michael Thompson Day’ which my wife and I celebrate each year, for good reason. “

Dr Mike says the best thing about working in HEMS is, “having the ability to treat people of all genders, ages and backgrounds with an acute injury or illness in any environment. Working on a motorway or inside someone’s house gives me the experience and exposure to help me feel more relaxed when I am thrown into the unknown. At GWAAC we attend the sickest of patients and I get to play a key part in the team when performing lifesaving and life-changing injury prevention.”

Dr Mike hopes to help GWAAC’s clinical team develop and improve as part of the charity’s wider goals. His short-term plans are to settle into his new roles as a Consultant, GWAAC Critical Care Doctor, and Dad.

Outside of his career, Dr Mike likes spending time with his family, exploring coastal places together and enjoying the simple beach life. He says his biggest achievement to date is his two children; a three-year-old daughter, and a 12-day-old son.

He also likes travelling and has lived in Vanuatu, a country in the South Pacific Ocean, where he learnt to speak Pidgin English: “Nem blong me Michael” translates to “My name is Michael.”

Dr Mike is inspired by, “people who set a clear ambition and achieve it. I’m always impressed by ‘Yes’ people; people that make things happen.”

His three favourite things in life are family (most favourite!), flying and red wine. His three most hated things are traffic jams, rude people and reality TV.

And when asked to describe himself in a few words? Patient, loyal and adaptable.

Welcome to the GWAAC family, Dr Mike!

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