Meet Abbie Cartmell, Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response Project Officer – NHS England

Hi, my name is Abbie.

I’m an Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response Project Officer in the London Emergency Planning Team at NHS England (London). I focus on training and exercising, alongside a number of other resilience workstreams within the team.

I studied BSc Environmental Hazards and Disaster Management at Kingston University because I really loved learning about volcanoes, earthquakes and other natural disasters! After getting involved in Exercise Unified Response (Europe’s biggest emergency response exercise) as part of my degree, I realised that Emergency Planning was the career I wanted to go into! I worked in London local authority emergency planning for 6 years, before recently making the transition into the NHS.

I’d say the main barrier getting into this career was that Emergency Planning jobs were few and far in between when I was about to graduate uni in 2016! I was lucky that a previous course graduate approached our uni with a role going in their team, that I was successful in getting. But there weren’t many other jobs going, so if that offer wasn’t there it would have been difficult to get my foot in the Emergency Planning door!

So when I started my first job as a 21 year old graduate fresh out of uni, I noticed two things in the London local authority emergency planning community – that there weren’t many people around my age, and there weren’t many women! So I felt quite intimidated when attending meetings at the start. Something that’s been really great to see over the years is the visible increase in women and younger people in the field.

I’d like to see Emergency Planning continuing to become more of a widely known field! When I first started in the job and told people  what I did for a living, I was often met with blank faces! Because of all the emergencies we’ve sadly seen in London and the UK over recent years (e.g. the 2017 terror attacks, Grenfell, Covid-19, etc), it’s become more of a higher profile and more recognised job to have.

In terms of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, I would like to see Emergency Planning become more of an accessible field to get into. Having more entry level roles where you don’t require a degree/ Emergency Planning experience, so you can utilise your transferrable skills and learn on the job.

Top Tip

Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance, advice or direction.  If there is something in particular that you’re interested in, proactively seek out people and opportunities to gain as much exposure as possible!

And something you don’t know about me?  Hmm… that my favourite hobby is indoor bouldering! A fellow Emergency Planning friend got me into it after we left the final Covid-19 lockdown in 2021, and now I do it weekly!