ANDREW Richardson is just as shocked to be awarded a prestigious medal as he was when he got accepted into the St John Ambulance Service.
The community paramedic from Mahogany Creek was presented with an Ambulance Service Medal, honouring his contribution to the organisation for the past 26 years.
Mr Richardson, a former high school music teacher, left the classroom to become a student ambulance officer in 1992.
The classical guitarist said he had “itchy feet” at the time and wanted to try something different, which led him to qualify as a paramedic three years later.
“To my surprise, I got in to the service,” Mr Richardson said.
“It was difficult to get in back then, it was a bit like applying for the fire brigade or the police force so I was shocked to have been accepted.”
The father-of-three went on to hold several positions within St John, including a metropolitan paramedic and on-road tutor, where he drew on his teaching skills to train and mentor new recruits.
With a passion for sharing knowledge and developing new officers, Mr Richardson became one of two career paramedics appointed in 2005 to the Northam sub centre.
The pair transformed the rural ambulance station, which historically was only run by volunteers, into what is now the Wheatbelt regional office.
Mr Richardson said his role included operations and training within the central Wheatbelt, covering Cunderdin, Quairading, York, Beverley, Brookton and Pingelly.
“I’m also involved in emergency management preparedness which includes preparing us for earthquakes, floods, fires and getting everything coordinated in the region,” he said.
“It’s not just me, though, there’s other community paramedics, so when things like the Boddington fires happen, a few years back, we roster through the command role and work with a volunteer workforce.”
Mr Richardson said it was this reason that other community paramedics as well as volunteers deserved recognition because all that he does was with a team.
“To get the award is a humbling experience because in the ambulance service there are plenty of people who are very good at their job,” he said.
Having been part of “tragic” incidents, Mr Richardson said he was proud of the work he’d achieved but didn’t consider himself a hero in anyway.
“There’s no doubt you’re proud to do the job we do and that’s the reason we do it but the hero status doesn’t sit well with any of us,” he said.
“It drives you to an extent of something to live up to but most of us shun the hero status.
“It’s just another job with its ups and downs.”