There are few people in Tamworth who would not have come across Inspector Ray Tait, in one capacity or another.
He’s spent the last 46-years helping those in their darkest hour, but last July the ambulance official clocked off for the last time.
The veteran paramedic is one of the state’s longest serving and has spent more than 30 of those years on the job in Tamworth.
He said there’s one reason he’s stayed so long in the job – because he loved it.
“While every day is not necessarily a good day, at the end of every day you have at least helped somebody,” he said.
Inspector Tait, 66, grew up in Newtown where he said he faced two paths in life – the wrong one, or the right one.
Thankfully, he said, he met a mentor who took him under his wing and introduced him to the work of St John’s and from there his Ambulance career was born.
You could say that for almost half a century, Inspector Tait has seen and done it all.
He’s delivered ten babies, including a set of twins and witnessed miracles on the road. But he has also witnessed unthinkable tragedy.
Inspector Tait was on the scene at the 1975 Savoy Hotel Fire on Christmas Day in Kings Cross, where 15 people died. He was also at the Granville rail disaster which killed 84 people.
One of the most traumatic experiences in Tamworth, he said, was giving evidence at an inquest into the deaths of four young people in an horrific crash on Werris Creek Rd.
“(I was) looking down at four sets of parents who sat through the entire inquest listening to some horrendous details. There’s only one reason why someone would go through that, and that’s love,” he said.
The former Tamworth councillor has credited a great team of colleagues for the longevity of his career and he also marvels over the advancements in technology.
“The emphasis was on transport from the scene to hospital and the hospital would do the majority of the treatment and we were basically doing first aid,” he said.
“Now the focus is on commencing treatment of the patient at home and treatment is continual into the hospital.”
While he might be taking a step back from working life, the community figure insists we haven’t seen the last of him yet.
While he admits the “jury is still out” on another tilt as a councillor, he currently serves on the boards of non-profit agencies in Tamworth. But he says one of his main priorities will be his family and his six grandchildren in particular.
“I’ve promised my grand-kids they’re going to get more time out of me than my kids did,” he said.