Faces of Tamworth: Paramedic Bob Wales

NEW CHAPTER: It's been a career of highs and lows, but Bob Wales will miss making a positive difference as a paramedic. Photo: Gareth Gardner
NEW CHAPTER: It's been a career of highs and lows, but Bob Wales will miss making a positive difference as a paramedic. Photo: Gareth Gardner

It takes a special kind of person to be a paramedic – to be able to walk in to a nightmarish situation, but still remain cool, calm and collected enough to administrator lifesaving medical aid. Tamworth paramedic Bob Wales has seen the worst of the worst, but still helps those in his care with good humour and a smile. Last year, The Leader caught up with Bob on his last day as a paramedic.

It’s hard for Bob Wales to sum up his 41 years as a paramedic, but if he had to describe it, he’d call it “one hell of a ride”.

On his last day, the Tamworth paramedic reflected on his four decades of saving lives.

“I’m what they call a shit-magnet,” Mr Wales laughed.

“If something is going to go down, it goes down when I’m on shift.”

After bouncing around the Riverina, Mr Wales settled in Quirindi, where he was the officer in charge for 16 years. In 2000, he moved to Tamworth, where he was one of the first paramedics trained on the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, which he served on until 2015.

“I’ve delivered 12 or 13 babies, I’ve lost count – they’re always a really good, positive job,” Mr Wales said.

“A few years a go I had a chap who had a very unusual cardiac arrest. We worked on him and we got a positive result out of that, and he came back to the station a few months later to shake our hand and thank us. That was a real buzz.

“About a fortnight ago, I did a cardiac arrest on a 19-month old. They’re not out of the woods yet, but it was a positive results.”

And as any emergency service worker will tell you, there are a few jobs stick out as low lights.

“Way back in 1979, I was sent out in the middle of the night – back then we use to work alone in those days – to a motor vehicle accident down in the Riverina,” Mr Wales said.

“There were 10 people injured, six of them critical. I was on my own, and I’ve never had such a lonely feeling in my life.”

”We do go to some bad things, but we get some good results. The good results are what makes it worthwhile.”

NEW CHAPTER: It's been a career of highs and lows, but Bob Wales will miss making a positive difference as a paramedic. Photo: Gareth Gardner

NEW CHAPTER: It's been a career of highs and lows, but Bob Wales will miss making a positive difference as a paramedic. Photo: Gareth Gardner

During his time as a paramedic, Mr Wales has seen the NSW Paramedics evolve from just “oxygen and first aid” to a world-class life saving operation.

He plans to keep himself busy in retirement, working on his house and fixing up his 1971 MGB Roadster. 

“I’ll show it first, then I’m going to race it,” he grinned.

While he’s yet to settle into the next stage of his life, Mr Wales already knows that he’s going to miss being a paramedic – and he may even find himself doing “the odd shift every now and again on a casual basis”.

“I’m going to keep my hand in and keep my registration up,” he said.

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