IN 1976, impressionable cadet ambulance officer David Boyd attended a plane crash near Geelong.
Two passengers died but Mr Boyd, who was 18 at the time, played a vital role in saving the other person.
Twenty years later, Mr Boyd ran into the man at a gliding competition in regional Victoria.
“He didn’t recognise me,” said Mr Boyd, who described the experience as the most memorable of his 40 years with Ambulance Victoria.
Mr Boyd, who received an Ambulance Victoria award for his services last week, started his career when road safety
wasn’t a high priority.
“There were a lot more car accidents. Cars weren’t designed to protect the drivers.
“There were a lot of chest injuries with people being ejected through windows,” he said.
After a “big reduction” in car incidents, Mr Boyd’s focus as a paramedic has moved toward domestic incidents, which in turn has posed different challenges.
“People were becoming more aggressive. They hit out,” he said.
As threats towards paramedics increased, the service had to change its strategy by increasing police presence for particular jobs, he said.
He said when police were called in with you, people got a bit more jumpy, asking ‘why do you want the police involved?’
In the 1990s, when hospital waiting times were ballooning out, Mr Boyd was threatened outside a hospital.
“Someone had their hand against my throat,” he said.
“I was just packing up the ambulance and they were just looking for someone else to have a go at.”
However, these were isolated incidents in what has been a career full of rewarding moments.
Mr Boyd has worked as a station and ambulance officer as well as paramedic at three branches in western Victoria, experiencing changes in medicine, equipment, communication and pay.
“I couldn’t have done it all without the support of my family,” he said.
Starting off as a cadet, Mr Boyd earned $45 a week, but he said he was never in it for the money.
But he suggested paramedics were underpaid for the job they did.