“I spent 36 years as a paramedic. In one shift, I saw the entire human experience. Birth in the morning, death in the evening, and everything in between. This job makes you acutely in touch with life and its fragility.”
- Shane Edwards, retired Victorian Paramedic
CONTENT WARNING: Shane's detailed account of his career may be upsetting for some readers.
A 36-year career and unforgettable experience in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami
“By far the most memorable part of my career was volunteering in the recovery efforts in Asia after the 2004 tsunami. I’d been a paramedic for nearly 15 years by that point, but nothing could’ve prepared me for what I saw there.”
“I have three powerful mementoes that I brought home with me from that trip: A shell from the beach, a wooden weight of a fishing net, and a domino I saw in the rubble of a collapsed house. I keep them in visible places around my home, to remind myself how lucky I am.”
“These memories gave me strength through the health challenges I faced in the years that followed – and finally led to my retirement in May 2022.”
Serving in Victoria
“I served in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. In 2013, I moved to the Grampians and worked eight days on, six days off. They were long 10-hour shifts, but I managed to enjoy my life. As paramedics, we’d go out for dinner regularly. It was like a social club. I miss the camaraderie of going to work and being part of something bigger than myself.”
“But my job put great strain on my health. Shift workers live 10 years less than the general population, so we have to be extremely conscious of our health. Over my 36 years, I’ve noticed the industry come to realise the mental health aspect of the job.
“As I like to say, the squeaky wheel always gets the oil. You have to speak up and let others care for you, too. This is a 24/7/365 job. Reach out for help if you need it.”
Since joining Emergency Services Health Shane Edwards, a retired Victorian paramedic, has claimed over $39,000 in benefits.
Cover like no other
“I’m a proud Emergency Services Health member. It’s not the cheapest but it’s well worth it. Everything is handled, without problems. We have the best health fund to look after ourselves.”
“Since joining just three years ago, I’ve been through a major spinal surgery. Back in 1994, I hurt myself and suffered from back spasms. Years later, I tripped in the garage and tore the cartilage in my back. I could hardly walk. In 2020, after experiencing a pinched nerve, I had a microdiscectomy. I was living pain-free for some time before it flared dramatically and led to a full spinal fusion.”
“Now, at 65 years old, my back’s still not great. Most days I’m fine but I have to be mighty careful with prescribed medication. I’ve seen the ambos go down that path of pain relief. I try to get through it myself.”
“It helps to stay connected to the community. I always say to young paramedics: “Don’t climb up the ranks too quickly or forget where you’ve come from. If you keep one hand on the stretcher, you’ll always have a job.”
“Keep it simple. It’s about saving lives. This includes protecting your own.”