When a mum from Helston was presented with a long service award for her work in the ambulance service, watching on was a very special “plus one.”

Sarah Trounson took her eight-year-old son Oscar along to see her being honoured for 20 years’ service with the South Western Ambulance Trust. The mum-one-of one was keen to show him how proud she was of the award and to explain why she couldn’t always be there for him at birthdays and Christmas.

For while Oscar is at Wendron School, 40-year-old advanced technician Sarah is out saving lives.

She said: “I’m a single mum and it’s hard. My little boy loves what I do; he’s proud of me and that’s what keeps me going sometimes.”

Sarah was the same age as her son is now when she first announced she wanted to join the ambulance service.

She recalled: “Mum said, ‘You mean you want to be a nurse’ and I said, ‘No, I want to be out and about.’ I can’t really think how I’d seen about it – probably in Casualty on the telly. I’ve not looked back and I’m still here.”

She started working out of Redruth and Penzance before moving to Yeovil. She returned to Helston where she has worked for the last eight years, before recently relocating to Hayle Ambulance Station.

“Every day is different and every patient is different – no two jobs are the same. It’s the variety and being able to help somebody in that situation that makes it all worthwhile,” she said.

In 2016 she was awarded the Chief Executive Commendation Award for her work in the aftermath of a serious crash on Goonhilly Downs the previous year, when a car containing eight people flipped on its roof. Three people suffered serious injuries, with one woman, who had been travelling in the boot, losing her sight.

Sarah was the first on the scene and worked alone for 20 minutes before further help arrived.

“It was hard work in the dark, trying to deal with it all on my own. It’s quite frightening initially,” she said.

Another memorable callout has led to a continued friendship with the family she helped, despite them living in Australia. Sarah was called to treat a four-year-old girl who suffered a fractured skull when a bonfire exploded, while the family was staying with relatives in the area. She has since made a full recovery.

“They sent me a really lovely email saying, ‘There’s a small army of people who have had their faith in humanity restored listing to our story about you, your care and compassion to us all at a difficult time.’

“It’s things like that that make it all worthwhile,” she said.

Sarah, who hopes to reach her 40-year service mark, also looks after the Helston area co-responders team, which includes volunteers from Helston, Mullion, St Keverne, St Ives and Hayle fire stations.

She sees the role of the co-responders becoming more and more essential, saying: “We need more ambulances on the road but there isn’t the potential out there – there’s not enough funding from the government. We’re using volunteers more and more, and co-responders.”

However, she believes the new ‘tri station’ at Hayle, where the police, fire and ambulance services are all under one roof, is a positive step, adding: “Working together side by side really helps. I can see there being more stations like that in the future.”