MANY patients Des Kilpatrick helped in his 40-year career as a paramedic on the Northern Rivers never got the chance to say thanks - yesterday they did.
Mr Kilpatrick was one of the many life-savers at Lismore ambulance station yesterday for Thank a Paramedic Day.
In his career, Mr Kilpatrick saw many changes while stationed at Lismore, Casino, Kyogle and Evans Head.
"The treatment of patients has improved dramatically," he said.
"We went from no drugs to using drugs, so we were able to give people pain relief."
After recently having both legs amputated at the knee because of an infection, Mr Kilpatrick said he appreciated former colleagues transporting him from Lismore Base Hospital to St Vincents to recover.
"It was a bit of a rough ride in the back," he joked.
As part of the day, paramedic Peter Haron was presented the national medal for 15 years service by Member for Lismore Thomas George.
At the age of 20, Mr Haron enjoyed helping people as a member of the SES so he decided to become a paramedic.
He said ever since he started at Bondi ambulance station in 1996 the camaraderie between staff had always been very strong.
"Seeing the satisfaction on people's faces and knowing you have made a difference in their lives is rewarding," he said.
Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter crew also joined in yesterday's celebrations.
Mr George thanked the families of paramedics for supporting their vital career choice.
Ambulance NSW Lismore zone manager Wayne McKenna said 24 paramedics stationed at Lismore ambulance station worked round the clock using six ambulances and two operational support vehicles.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner said Thank a Paramedic Day was an opportunity for communities to show appreciation for the incredible work paramedics do.
In the past year NSW Ambulance paramedics responded to more than 1.2 million incidents - an average of 3340 a day or one response every 26 seconds.
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