Last walk home for long-serving paramedic

One of our longest serving paramedics, Richard Emery, has just retired, with 47 years of service under his belt. 

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He started as an ambulance officer in 1970 after volunteering for Wellington Free from the young age of 22. His career included a five year period working for Wellington Free’s Head Office, then called the Department of Health.

Richard had a natural fascination in first aid from an early age, an interest that grew after volunteering which eventually lead to a life-long career.

When Richard started the job was basically “a glorified first aid role” he explains.

“We had no invasive interventions - we couldn’t even administer pain relief; the patients and paramedics were often quite frustrated by this,” says Richard.

“Things have changed drastically since then, there’s a huge scope of medical intervention and so much more you can do. Things are constantly evolving and it’s an exciting time, growing with the job is part of the challenge.”

Perhaps what Richard became most known for, was his daily commute from Kelson to the Lower Hutt station.

For the last 10 years he has walked to work, rain or shine.

“It became habitual really, it was a decent 4km walk to the station and I would leave in my work uniform so I guess people began to recognise me.

“The number of people who have bumped into me and said ‘are you the guy who walks over the Kennedy Good Bridge’ is incredible.”

After a team breakfast following his very last shift, Richard went to walk home, and was surprised to find his colleagues had all arranged to walk home beside him.

“It was completely unexpected and very special, it was a grisly day but they still came. It’s definitely something that will stay with me forever.”

For those interested in a fulfilling career in emergency services, Richard’s word of advice is to make the most of volunteering opportunities and to get a bit of life experience.

“Volunteering is the perfect way to sample ambulance work as a career and it means you can get some life experience in the meantime.

“You aren’t dealing with just medical issues, it’s the interpersonal challenges that surround an incident, domestic disputes or a death. The work is often challenging in these senses.

“I really do think it’s a calling. It’s not a glamorous job and you have to love doing it to do it properly.”

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