FOND FAREWELL: Kyogle's long-time paramedic Des Whitney is retiring after 38 years serving the district.
FOND FAREWELL: Kyogle's long-time paramedic Des Whitney is retiring after 38 years serving the district. Jacqueline Munro

Saving lives for 40 years: Last shift for Kyogle paramedic

AFTER what was described as a "long and illustrious” career by colleagues, Kyogle paramedic Des Whitney completed his final shift with NSW Ambulance yesterday.

Mr Whitney, who has been a paramedic for 40 years, said it was "with a heavy heart” that he made the decision to leave the job.

The 61-year-old started work with NSW Ambulance on June 12, 1978 in Bathurst, before relocating to Kyogle in 1980, but said he hadn't always wanted to be a paramedic.

Mr Whitney said he had always wanted to become a nurse, but was unable to pursue his original dream career due to his gender.

"Back then they were only taking two men in each induction class because it was a predominantly female industry,” he said.

"But I was flicking through a magazine and I found a picture of two ambos and I though 'hmm, sensational, this is what I need to do'.”

Raised in The Channon, Mr Whitney completed his first aid training and started honorary work at Lismore Station to see if he liked the job, before travelling to Sydney for paramedic training.

Upon graduation, he applied for a paramedic position at West Wylong but was instead tasked to Bathurst, eventually transferring to Kyogle to be closer to his parents.

He said it was "awesome” being a paramedic in a small town, where the residents get to know you.

"I want to thank the community for their support, acceptance, laughter, trust and most of all, their respect,” he said.

He said his favourite part of the job was helping maternity patients, and while he still loved the work, he was 'tired' of the long shifts.

After completing his final shift, Mr Whitney said his focus now falls onto working on his 100 acre property, but is also looking into some casual retail work in Lismore.

Mr Whitney's farewell party is open to the public and will be held February 9 from 6.30pm at Kyogle Bowling Club.

For more information phone Katherine McAnelly 0422 480 203 or Bill Stralow 0450 115 834.



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