Our amazing colleague Amanda Patience combines saving lives in the fire service with working in the grocery department of our Wheatley store.
Amanda carries a pager with her at all times, so when Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service need their Wheatley crew to answer an emergency she dashes out of the store to the fire station, which is only one minute’s drive away.
She’s been given special allowance by the store management to combine the roles.
Amanda said: "I like working in the community, helping people and making a difference – which is why I trained up to be a member of the fire service.
“Our general store manager Michael Turner and deputy store manager Jason Clark have been unbelievable with their support.
“Customers are great too. Sometimes I can be helping a customer when my pager buzzes and I have to quickly explain that I have to go. When they realise why they say, ‘go, go, go!’
“I then call either Michael or Jason literally as I’m running out of the store trying not to knock anybody over. I get in quite early in the morning so I’m always parked close by the front doors and get straight to the station.
“I then get changed into my fire service outfit and go on the call-out. I can get called out four our five times a week but obviously there is no normal or average week, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Amanda, who’s 30, has worked at the Wheatley store since 2003 and lives with her mum and brother in nearby Tetsworth. She began training to join the fire service in 2009. She often uses her annual leave as well as taking periods of unpaid leave to allow her to attend extended training requirements.
Asda Wheatley General Store Manager Michael Turner said: “We want to support our colleagues in getting the right balance in their lives. Amanda is a great support to the store, customers and local community. She manages to juggle a full-time role here, a role with the fire service and her home life – she does it all very well.”
Mark Keely, Watch Manager at Wheatley Fire Station, said: "We can’t run an effective service without the benefit of thoughtful employers like Asda so we really appreciate how we’ve been able to work together with them.
“The way Amanda manages it is very good – she can be available at the drop of a hat to serve her community, and she’s also able to achieve everything she needs for her employer too.
Fire stations in Oxfordshire are all looking for on-call firefighters to join their teams – find out more here.
On-call firefighters go about their daily everyday life until they are alerted to an emergency incident in their area – then they have five minutes to get to their local fire station and respond as a professional firefighter. They are paid for their time and many do it alongside their day-to-day job.
If you’re 18 or over and live/work within five minutes of a fire station, you can get involved.
Mike Swadling, Station Commander for Wheatley, Thame and Didcot Fire Stations, said: “We’ve got fantastic crews in Wheatley, Thame and Didcot but as a few of them are moving on or retiring, we’re looking for more people to join the teams. It’s a challenging but extremely rewarding role where you’ll learn new skills, experience real team camaraderie and play an important part in the local community.”
If you’re interested in joining the fire service please contact your local Fire and Rescue service.