Forty years in service

John Harpley and Stephen Pollard have celebrated 40 years in the ambulance service, many of those working side-by-side.They say working in emergency services is a calling and that is the case for John Harpley.
Nanjing Night Net

The man who started Forbes’ SES in the early 1970s has now celebrated 40 years with the ambulance service.

Harpley, who is now in Young,was recognised for 40 years service by Ambulance NSW CEO Dominic Morgan.

Along with colleague Stephen Pollard,he received thethird clasp on the 10 Year Service Medal to signify their 40 years as paramedics.

Amazingly, Stephen and John have spent more than 35 of their 40 years working together in three different locations and are great mates.

John began his career as a paramedic in August 1975 after two years as an honorary Ambulance Officer in Forbes.

Working as a storekeeper for the Council, he created Forbes Rescue, where he was captain and instructor, after returning from a SES National Disaster Rescue course.

In 1972, John’s son became very ill and needed air ambulance transportto Sydney, a service which saved his life.

“When my son returned home and signs were positive for a full recovery, I thought if there was anyway I could contribute to NSW Ambulance, I would,” John said.“I was already assisting the local Ambulance service and thought I should give it a real go.”

The career has taken him to Leeton and Bowral, where he met Stephen.

“Before the Hume Highway at Bowral was split into a dual road, it had the highest rate of motor vehicle accidents in NSW,” John said.“On my first day I attended four high speed accidents!”

John took the Intensive Care Paramedics course in 1978 and transferred to Wollongong.

Stephen joined him and for 16 years they worked together in the Illawarra, 10 years in helicopters.

In that time they flew all around NSW doing jobs, flying patients to Canberra and Sydney, even working in the Nyngan floods.

Stephen moved to Young in 1995 and was once again joined by John in 1998.They’re still there and now both are looking to retire within 18 months.

John credits his longevity in the job to his family’s support.

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