ER24 medic retires

2016-06-21 06:00
 Photo: supplied Good times with the team (from left) Athish Mohun, Patrick Smith, Nash Appalsamy and Jonathan Kok.

Photo: supplied Good times with the team (from left) Athish Mohun, Patrick Smith, Nash Appalsamy and Jonathan Kok.

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ER24 bid farewell last month to a man who dedicated several years of his life to helping those in their greatest time of need.

Patrick Smith (65), from the ER24 Highway team, worked his last night shift on 29 May. He is the first person at ER24 to be retiring from operations officially.

Smith, affectionately known to colleagues as Uncle Dan, started his career as a medic in 1986. He has been with ER24 since 2004.

He had to start working soon after leaving school (Wentworth High School), to help support his family.

He worked in the building industry and a few years later, moved on to the metal industry where he trained to become a pipe fitter.

Smith, soon realised his passion for helping people.

“I loved helping and caring for those in need. There was a great need for paramedics. I decided to follow my passion and became a basic life support (BLS) medic in 1986,” said Smith.

He started his career at the government emergency services. He became an Intermediate Life Support (ILS) medic in 1994 and moved to ER24 a number of years later. He worked at the ER24 Central base and later moved to ER24 Highway.

The job at hand was no easy task as he faced challenges. “When I first became a medic, I had to get used to the discipline and shift work. In time, and with patience and endurance, I was able to overcome these challenges,” he said.

He described being a medic as a noble career.

“You try to help people in their greatest time of need. You must have a passion for the job. Then it becomes a career of joy and contentment,” he said.

Smith has helped countless people following serious trauma and medical emergencies.

One of the incidents he remembers is that of a woman who was struggling to breathe.

“She had an illness that caused the narrowing of her throat. One day while having lunch she started choking. She was rushed to a nearby doctor’s surgery, however, could not be helped. We were called out.

“When we got there she was struggling to breathe. I applied the Heimlich maneuver and after a few thrusts, to my joy, the piece of food stuck in her throat came out. The thanks I received from her and her family gave me great satisfaction,” he said.

Every paramedic will know that with all great moments of saving a life, there is another where nothing can be done despite all efforts to save the person.

“One of my worst or saddest cases was that of a six-month-old baby who stopped breathing in the early hours of the morning. On arrival, we found a number of people at the house.

“There was an air of expectancy … a belief that we could do something to save the baby,” he said.

But there was nothing that could be done for the child. “The despair and sadness made me feel so helpless,” said Smith.

Although heartbroken, Smith knew that he had to stay focused and continue trying to make a positive difference where he could.

Speaking about his retirement and in a message to his colleagues, Smith said: “Do not stop caring for the sick and injured. That friendly greeting, that smile, tells the patient that you have the best interest at heart. Continue with the great job that you are doing.

“I would like to thank ER24 for the employment I had. May the company continue to prosper and grow.

“Thanks to my base manager, Derrick Banks, for the kindness and understanding in dealing with me. God bless you all.”

Banks described Smith as the most caring and compassionate person he has met.

In a message to Smith, Banks said: “Uncle Dan … how that name came about we never understood but thank you for being the person that you are and reminding us every now and then why we chose this career. You have been a father figure to many of the staff. They have looked up to you for advice on many occasions.

“The crew, which is more of a family at the Highway team, and I are going to miss you. I hope you can now sit back and enjoy your retirement with your family and look back at all that you have achieved.”

ER24 thanks Smith for his dedication and compassion for patients. We also thank his wife Hazel, children Angus, Allerise and Denielle as well as his grandchildren for sharing him with us.

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