Britain's first female chief paramedic wants to blaze a trail for others

Pauline Cranmer
Pauline Cranmer

Britain’s first female chief paramedic has vowed to “blaze a trail” for young women working in emergency services and spoke of her “pride” at being appointed to the role in London.

Pauline Cranmer was announced as chief paramedic for the London Ambulance Service (LAS) on May 29 following a 30-year career on the frontline in the capital.

She succeeds Daniel Martin, who held the post for three years.

Speaking to the Standard in her first interview since taking on the role, Ms Cranmer said that she wanted to act as a “role model” for young women working in emergency services.

“When I joined the LAS more than 30 years ago, my station officers were all men and there were not many senior female leaders. That is why taking on this job is so important to me.

“I am living proof that if you’ve got the passion, the opportunities are there for you. This senior executive paramedic role is the opportunity to blaze the trail for all those that come after me."

She added: “Attitudes used to be very different. It wasn’t uncommon back then to have people raise an eyebrow if they saw that you were driving an ambulance rather than the man you were working with.

“No one would notice that now.”

Ms Cranmer, who grew up in London, was inspired to join the service in 1994 after seeing an advert in a newspaper.

She began working as a technician before qualifying as a paramedic.

Later in her career, she became an experienced strategic commander and led the response to the Westminster Bridge terror attack in 2017.

“I never really thought I would become a paramedic, but once I joined the LAS I never looked back," she said.

"I have been so lucky over the years to have had so many opportunities here and work in so many different teams.”

representation across the LAS now stands at 51 per cent, according to the Trust's latest annual report.

But Ms Cranmer said that improving the ethnic diversity of the LAS workforce was a key goal for her in the role. Only one in five LAS employees (20 per cent) come from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background, despite almost one in two (46.2 per cent) people in London having a non-white background.

Last year, the London Assembly’s health committee urged the LAS to improve the diversity of its workforce.

“I want to see more diversity at the LAS and will commit to making it happen. We want to work with local communities where we know there is a diverse population and encourage people to join us,” she said.