Twin paramedics retire after almost three decades caring for Londoners

‘Miracle worker’ twin paramedics are retiring this week after a combined 56 years of saving lives.

London Ambulance Service’s Mark and Chris McCarthy, 57, have worked their last shift from Friern Barnet station, after treating thousands of patients during their 28-year careers.

Chris said: “Retiring was a very difficult decision to make but we do everything together so it seemed natural to retire together. We’ve had incredible careers, met amazing patients and worked with some great people. My wife said I was too squeamish to do this job and I’d only last three days, so I proved her wrong!”

The brothers, who were both black cab drivers before joining the ambulance service, say it has changed considerably since they joined in 1991.

Mark said: “The training and skills are unrecognisable – paramedics now all have degrees and it’s a true profession.

“Years ago, we would literally pick up patients and get them straight to hospital, whereas now we stabilise and treat them on the scene before taking them to a specialist centre – it’s so much better for patients now.

“There have been difficult times over the years, and in this job you do see some horrible things, however, we’ve always had each other for support. I’d definitely recommend it as a career – it’s been a real privilege to treat so many patients over the years.”

Brian Wilson is one of the patients who owes his life to the twins.

The 68-year-old father and grandfather collapsed at his home in North Finchley five years ago and Chris and Mark were there in minutes.

Brian said: “I collapsed earlier that day and was taken to hospital but tests didn’t find anything wrong so I went home. I remember thinking I must be sick as I was seeing double – not realising they were twins at the time!”

Brian’s heart stopped beating and the twins performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before taking him to Barnet Hospital.

Brian added: “They are miracle workers. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for them and I can’t thank them enough for what they did. They were incredibly calm, and professional and so experienced – it’s such a shame they’re retiring. I am really appreciative to all ambulance workers – they do an incredible job.”

The brothers plan to keep up their paramedic skills by working a few shifts a month, but will spend more time with their families as well as doing hobbies they enjoy – including boxing at Finchley Boxing Club.


Caroline Watson

[email protected]

About London Ambulance Service

London Ambulance Service covers an area of 620 sq. miles, serves one of the world’s most dynamic and diverse cities and is the busiest ambulance service in the UK. We handle over 1.9 million emergency calls from across the capital and attend more than 1.2 million incidents every single year as well as delivering a 24 hour* NHS 111 Integrated Urgent Care Service in South East and North East London that we estimate will respond to around 1.4million urgent care calls next year.

We employ over 5,700 staff across 83 sites in London to respond to the health needs of over eight million people who live, work and travel in the capital.

We work closely with our NHS partners and are commissioned by 32 clinical commissioning groups spread across 5 sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and NHS England for our specialist services. We work alongside London’s hospital, mental health and specialist trusts, as well as the five STPs across Greater London.

In addition we work in partnership with the other emergency services, London’s Air Ambulance and London’s Resilience Forums to make sure we are ready and prepared to respond to major incidents and ensure we keep Londoners safe.

As the only pan-London NHS provider we have a unique opportunity to play a leading role in integrating access to emergency and urgent care right across London.

By 2023 we will improve outcomes and experiences for all our patients by providing the right care to patients at the right time, and in the most cost effective way. This will mean up to 122,000 fewer patients being taken to emergency departments when their needs could be better met in a different way, and we will deliver significant efficiencies in avoided costs to the urgent and emergency care sector.

*The South East London Integrated Urgent Care Service currently operates between the hours of 0800-1700 Monday – Friday until 26 February when it will become a 24 hour, 7 days a week service. Until then, we will continue to operate an out of hours standard NHS 111 service.


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