Rob Partridge meeting Prince Charles
Rob Partridge meeting Prince Charles

We sat down with one of our amazing volunteers, Rob Partridge, for a chat about his role at BT and his volunteering work.

Hi Rob, can you tell us about your role at BT?

I'm a Business Development Manager for Security Advisory Services. So, I help customers understand their security needs and select products to improve their security.

And you also volunteer in your spare time. Can you tell us a little about your volunteering work?

I've been a volunteer firefighter for around 18 years now. A lot of the UK's firefighters are volunteers, it's mainly in the major cities that there are full-time firefighters. We're trained exactly the same as full-time firefighters and on average we get two or three calls a week. We deal with everything from cats in trees, to people stuck in cars after accidents, to people trapped in house fires.

I'm also trained to deal with medical emergencies. Because I live in such a rural area, sometimes medical emergency ambulances can't get to the scene fast enough. That's where I come in. I help deal with the medical emergency while we wait for the ambulance to arrive.

How did you get into this?

Before I moved to rural England, I lived in London where I studied business studies for my degree. As part of my dissertation I studied organisations that used teamwork really well and one of the organisations I studied was the London Fire Brigade. I went and interviewed the firefighters about how they used teamwork and I realised that I wanted to be a firefighter. But obviously I had worked too hard on my career at BT and I wasn't really looking for a career change. About six months later I moved to Exmoor, in rural England, and a neighbour mentioned that I should look at volunteering for the fire service. I spoke to my boss at BT and got the go ahead, so I started my training and I've never looked back.

What is the most rewarding thing about your volunteer work?

The fact that I can make a difference. When people dial 999 it's because they need help and being part of the team that provides that help is deeply rewarding. I've been in situations where I've saved peoples' lives, and when I bump into someone a few weeks later who would have been dead had it not been for my help is a very humbling experience. Also, to be able to provide comfort and reassurance to others in emergency situations, both fire situations and medical emergencies, is both a humbling privilege and very rewarding.

You recently met Prince Charles, what was that like?

Back in March when Covid-19 started rearing its head, the South West Ambulance Service realised they may have a problem with the demand on their services and the availability of their staff. They asked for firefighters to temporarily join the Ambulance Service in March to help with this, due to our medical training and our ability to drive on blue lights. I approached BT to check whether this was okay and they gracefully said they'd support my efforts towards combatting Covid-19. During this time, I've taken Covid-19 patients to hospital as well as dealing with other emergencies that the ambulance service would normally deal with.

Prince Charles came to give his thanks and gratitude to the firefighters that volunteered to help with the ambulance service. It was really relaxed and casual, he asked how fast the ambulances go which was really funny. It was quite an honour to meet him and hear him say thank you to us for the work that we're doing.

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