Wagga advanced life support paramedic Phil Hoey has spent the past 43 years being prepared to head out on a moment’s notice and help save lives.
Mr Hoey has spent most of that time working as a paramedic in Wagga except for six years moving around the Riverina.
It was his own personal crisis that inspired Mr Hoey to start helping others for a living when paramedics saved his life after hitting a sheep with his motorbike.
“The driving force behind my whole career is the fact that I got a second chance by a paramedic; and ambulance officers saved my life back in 1973,” he said.
“It’s where my association began, back when I used to go into the ambulance station in Cootamundra and pay a small amount of money and pay a small amount of money each fortnight out of what was then my unemployment benefits.
“That was until I learnt to walk again. I got to know them and they got to know me and they asked ‘why don’t you become a paramedic?’”
The job has changed a lot since he was first inspired to sign up as an honorary paramedic before becoming a paid staff member in 1977.
“Once, getting them to the hospital as fast as possible was the key,” he said.
“Now, we manage, stabilise and transport and it’s a whole new ball game.
“If you had told me I would be putting needles in people’s arms and doing defibrillation and intubation and all these other things paramedics do, I wouldn’t have thought they would never let us do that.”
There have also been less welcome changes.
“What creates the greatest risk for paramedics is dealing with people with acute behavioral disturbances who are affected by drugs or alcohol,” he said.
“It was a completely different world when drugs came along.”
Mr Hoey has also spent a lot of his free time helping others by volunteering as a paramedic for the Kidney Kar Rally for the past 25 years
“They charity gets my services, which they don’t have to pay for, which means the money instead goes to where it should: to the kids,” he said.
“It also gives me that chance to see some amazing places around Australia.”
Mr Hoey’s last day shift was on Monday.
Wagga Base Hospital held a afternoon tea for Mr Hoey as at busy times he would arrive every 20 minutes with a patient.
Mr Hoey was named Wagga’s 2018 Citizen of the Year in recognition of his decades of service to the community and as Wagga’s national stroke ambassador.
Mr Hoey’s wife Kim said her husband’s career spoke for itself.
“We’re just looking forward to where the next chapter takes us,” she said.
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