Andrew Ryan receives his award.

Over his 40 year career, Superintendent Andrew Ryan has witnessed some of the most significant events in the history of New South Wales.

The Critical Care Paramedic – who last month celebrated four decades on the job with a surprise party at the Toll Ambulance base in Albion Park – was on the ground soon after the devastating Newcastle earthquake that killed 13 people in 1989, and was there to help as part of the mammoth rescue effort that took place following the Thredbo landslide in 1997.

Supt Ryan has been there for thousands of Australians, often during the most challenging moments of their lives.

He said it has been a hugely rewarding career with many memories that will stay with him forever. “There have been so many tragedies – it’s a difficult job that challenges you every day, but there are huge rewards with that. You never forget those jobs,” he said.

The past 40 years have been a “wild ride” for Supt Ryan and he thanked his strong family support network for keeping him grounded – especially his wife Suellyn.

“She has always been there for me and reminded me of the fact that we help people at the worst possible times of their lives,” he said.

Supt Ryan kicked off his career with NSW Ambulance at 19 years old after being inspired by his brother who had joined 18 months earlier. “I listened to some of the stories he was telling me and I thought this was right up my alley,” he said. He was on his very first job, where a man had fallen down a cliff in Stanwell Park, when he realised this was his calling.

“An Intensive Care Paramedic assisted us and I very quickly had the urge to keep learning,” he said. “I did further training becoming an Intensive Care Paramedic and then a Critical Care Paramedic.” Supt Ryan’s daughter Madolyn, who works in the Southern Control Centre in Wollongong, is beyond proud of her “legend” dad.

“I used to hear that he was a legend and kind of laughed it off thinking ‘oh that’s just my dad’,” she said. “But now I understand what they are saying, since starting on the job it has become known to me that he is a legend.”

When a retirement post was published on social media it was flooded with congratulatory comments and well wishes from mates and colleagues.

“Best boss, mate, mentor, colleague and operative paramedic you could ask for,” one read. “Congrats on a stellar career and still leading by example.”