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Prince William has previously spoken about his experience of working as an air ambulance pilot and some of the challenges he faced. But now, the future king has shared his most personal reflections on the subject to date as he opened up during a guest appearance on Apple’s Time to Walk audio experience.
Sharing thoughts on the role he started in 2015 with the East Anglian Air Ambulance service in Cambridge after having previously been an RAF Search and Rescue pilot, William spoke about being “fully involved in every job,” adding “in some cases, you're there providing CPR and actually helping the guys with the casualty.” He said, “Seeing patients and families ripped apart on almost a daily basis, that routine, you just get into a habit of head down and get on with it.”
However, William recalled one particular job he was called out for when, “Immediately it became clear that this young person was in serious difficulty, sadly been hit by a car.”
“And of course there's some things in life you don't really want to see. And all we cared about at the time was fixing this boy. And the parents are very hysterical, as you can imagine, screaming, wailing, not knowing what to do, you know, and in, in real agony themselves. And that lives with you,” the Prince said.
The boy was stabilized and transported to hospital in less than an hour, but William said that the moment stayed with him. “I went home that night pretty upset but not noticeably. I wasn't in tears, but inside, I felt something had changed. I felt a sort of, a real tension inside of me,” he said.
After returning to work the next day and carrying on, William said that the impact of the incident “really hit me weeks later. It was like someone had put a key in a lock and opened it without me giving permission to do that.” He added, “I felt like the whole world was dying. It's an extraordinary feeling. You just feel everyone's in pain, everyone's suffering. And that's not me. I've never felt that before... I kept looking at myself, going, ‘Why am I feeling like this? Why do I feel so sad?’ And I started to realize that, actually, you're taking home people's trauma, people's sadness, and it's affecting you.”
The Duke of Cambridge, who has made mental health a big focus of his charity work, emphasized the benefits of talking things through and the importance of acknowledging and working on mental fitness. Three mental health charities are receiving five-figure donations from Apple for his appearance: Shout in the UK, which is a text message service for people in crisis that the Cambridges helped to launch; Their US partner Crisis Text Line and Lifeline in Australia which offers 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Apple’s Time to Walk was launched at the start of this year on Apple Watch for Apple Fitness Plus to encourage people to walk more often to benefit their physical and mental health. Each episode features a guest who walks in a location that is meaningful to them and shares important memories, life experiences and lessons learned.
William’s episode will also be available free on radio station Apple Music 1 from Monday December 6.
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