They say working in emergency services is a calling and that is the case for two long serving local paramedics.
In a profession that does not lend itself to long careers, Young’s Stephen Pollard and John Harpley were recognised for 40 years’ service at a presentation by Ambulance NSW CEO Dominic Morgan in Temora last Tuesday.
The pair received their third clasp on their 10 year service medal to signify their 40 years as paramedics.
Amazingly, Stephen and John have spent more than 35 of their 40 years working together in three different locations and are great mates.
“The strains working in the service can put on the social aspect of your life sees a lot of your mates being paramedics as well,” John said.
“There is great camaraderie in the service and we are like one big family.
“We tend to socialise together as the job can be disruptive to social life.
“You never know when you are going to be called out to a job.
“It can happen at anytime,” he said.
Stephen, now District Inspector for Young, Cootamundra and Temora, bought up his 40 years in April this year and began life in the service after spending a number of years as a baker.
In 1976 he became a paramedic.
“I worked with my dad at his bakery until I was 22,” Stephen said.
“When the business was closing, I had two friends in the service and they encouraged me to join up.
“I thought I could give it a go until I found something better.
“Forty years later and I never have or will!”
John began life as a paramedic in August 1975 after two years as an honorary Ambulance Officer in Forbes.
Working as a storekeeper for the Council, he created Forbes Rescue, where he was captain and instructor, after returning from a SES National Disaster Rescue course.
In 1972, John’s son became very ill and needed an air ambulance to transport him to Sydney, a service which saved his life.
“When my son returned home and signs were positive for a full recovery, I thought if there was anyway I could contribute to NSW Ambulance, I would,” John recalled.
“After 40 years I think I have done that.
“I was already assisting the local Ambulance service and thought I should give it a real go.”
John joined Stephen in Bowral after two years in Leeton, where the pair worked together for two more years.
“Before the Hume Highway at Bowral was split into a dual road, it had the highest rate of motor vehicle accidents in NSW,” John added.
“On my first day I attended four high speed accidents!
“As soon as the road was split, the number of accidents was greatly reduced,” he said.
Early in 1978, John left to undergo the Intensive Care Paramedics course and transferred to Wollongong.
Stephen then joined him in The Gong in 1979 when he underwent the same course.
For 16 years they worked together in the Illawarra, 10 years in helicopters.
The pair spent three years with Surf Rescue, six with the National Safety Council and a year with Lloyds who are the current operators under the CHC Helicopters banner.
In that time they flew all around NSW doing jobs, flying patients to Canberra and Sydney, even working in the Nyngan floods.
Stephen left Wollongong to come to young in 1995 before he was once again joined by John in 1998, via a two year stint in Yass.
The pair plan to retire soon, John later this year and Stephen in the next 18 months.
“Forty years has flown by and it is a shame it went so fast,” Stephen said.
“My mind still wants to keep going, but the body has had enough.
“Sometimes I think I could do 40 more, but the physical strain is too much.
“I will leave it to my son Ian, who almost has 10 years of service, to keep up the good work,” he said.
John said family support has played an integral part in the pair’s longevity in the service.
“Having a supportive wife and family has made the job so much easier,” John said.
“Having people around you who understand what we are doing and being there when we need to talk after a rough job has been a real benefit.
“There is no way we would have made 40 years without them,” he said.
Both Stephen and John are staying in Young after they retire and would not live anywhere else.
“We love it here,” Stephen said.
“Young is a fantastic community and after working all over the state, there is nowhere else we would rather retire.
“We may do a bit of travel around Australia, but we will always come back here to live,” he said.
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