Soldier leaves Army to become paramedic following Covid-19 pandemic

A soldier who served in Afghanistan has left the Army to become a paramedic following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ranger Bernard McHugh, of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, made the decision to pursue a career as a paramedic after being inspired by his work with the Welsh Ambulance Service during the pandemic.

The 23-year-old, from Co Tipperary, Ireland, was one of 100 British Army soldiers who supported the trust’s Covid-19 response by driving and decontaminating ambulance vehicles.

Ranger Bernard McHugh, who has left the Army to pursue a career as a paramedic
Ranger Bernard McHugh, who has left the Army to pursue a career as a paramedic

The soldier joined the Royal Irish Regiment in 2016, and has served in Afghanistan with Nato as well as being deployed to Norway.

However, he said he has always had a passion for public services.

“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,” Mr McHugh said.

“It was on the way to a road traffic collision one day that the spark was reignited, 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.”

Ambulance Operations Manager Heather Ransom presents a commemorative plaque to the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment at Shropshire’s Clive Barracks
Ambulance Operations Manager Heather Ransom presents a commemorative plaque to the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment at Shropshire’s Clive Barracks

Mr McHugh has since secured a job as an urgent care assistant in Bangor, Gwynedd, and will move to North Wales in the autumn with his partner.

“The end goal is to be a paramedic. I know that it will take time but I’m willing to work hard,” he said.

Lee Brooks, director of operations at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said he was “thrilled” by the Irish soldier’s decision, and added that there had been “ribbing” from military colleagues “for poaching one of theirs”.