Paramedic calls it a day

He has helped deliver babies, been first on scene to horrific accidents and transported patients to hospitals right across Gippsland.

But after almost 42 years of service, Moe-based paramedic Peter Abery has hung up his uniform for the last time.

The decision was not one Peter made lightly; back in the day he “wouldn’t take a sickie unless my life depended on it”.

“I’d try to go on holidays but ended up back at work as I was needed,” Peter said.

It was his battle with prostate cancer that forced the 61 year-old to retire.

He was diagnosed in 2013 and since then has burnt through 42 weeks of annual leave, a year of sick leave and 67 weeks of long-service leave.

Following the diagnosis Peter has struggled with the physical and mental nature of his job and officially finished on 8 May.

But despite the cancer diagnosis and a battle with post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing some “nasty stuff”, Peter looked back on the past four decades fondly as one big adrenaline rush.

“I’ve heard blokes say at the very first job their heart was racing and at the very last job their heart was racing, and it’s true,” Peter said.

He’s made life-long friends and won a string of accolades including The National Medal, a safe driving medallion and a service award, but for Peter the job was all about helping others.

“I just want to help, usually at the expense of myself,” he said.

“It’s not something anyone can do, it’s a calling. You’ve got to have a need to do it.”

Peter recommends the job to others but advises graduates to have some life experience up their sleeve beforehand.

He also encouraged paramedics to continue to up-skill throughout their career so they could move onto other aspects of the job in case of illness; something he was unable to do.

But Peter has found a new calling that gives him the same satisfaction – he now works as a school bus driver and personal care worker at an aged care facility.

He loves his newfound career, which allows him to continue to help others.

“It’s just what I do, help others,” Peter said.

Peter was officially farewelled by 50 of his family, friends and past colleagues at a dinner last Saturday.