Friends, family, colleagues and even former patients have paid tribute to Paramedic Terry Morrow after he celebrated 50 years with NSW Ambulance.
Twenty-odd years ago Terry Morrow attended the scene of an incident that every Paramedic dreads to see.
A four-year-old boy had been hit by a cement truck, and, in Terry’s words, “was dead on the kitchen table when I arrived”.
Thankfully, the story didn’t end there.
Terry’s knowledge, skill and drive ensured that the boy survived.
And if ever there was proof of how that boy – now grown up and married with children – has never forgotten what Terry did for him, in came a couple of weeks ago.
“The man reached out to me on Facebook and said, ‘congratulations on being a Paramedic for 50 years, Terry.
Thank you for saving my life’,” Terry said.
“I was really chuffed that he wrote that post. He still lives in the Illawarra area and I see his parents occasionally in the shopping area… they always greet me with happiness.”
It’s reasons like this why Terry has stayed on as a paramedic in NSW Ambulance for 50 years – yes, half a century.
Earlier this month the Station Officers for Dapto and Warrawong – which Terry oversees as Chief Inspector of the Illawarra Shoalhaven area – organised a party for him to celebrate his incredible milestone.
Given the significance of this milestone, Terry also received congratulatory calls from Chief Executive Dr Dominic Morgan, Executive Director Clinical Systems Clare Beech and Director Clinical Operations Clare Lorenzen.
Terry, 69, began his remarkable career as an honorary (volunteer) ambulance officer at Nowra after topping his class in first-aid. Funnily enough, the reason he had undertaken the first-aid course in the first place was because he was trying to become a police officer. He had initially been turned away from the police because he was too young at the time and it was suggested he could boost his prospects by learning first-aid.
“When the police came back to me about 12 months later I declined their offer, because by that time, after I had done my first-aid course, I had fallen in love with the NSW Ambulance Service and I liked helping people in the community,” he said.
“I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to ambulance work and I have had good bosses in the Ambulance Service. They’ve provided me with the opportunity to make decisions, and they empower me to ensure everything is done right.”
Along with holding management roles, Terry has spent time in his career as a Helicopter Paramedic (now known as a Critical Care Paramedic), and is among the most experienced current-serving Intensive Care Paramedics, having graduated from 1978’s Course 6).
As one would expect from somebody who has served as a paramedic for as long as Terry has, there are no shortage of incredible stories.
Like the one where he winched down from a helicopter to rescue a family and two pets from a home drifting down floodwaters in Wellington; or the one where he was transporting a woman – who was about to give birth to twins – from Bourke to Sydney, and had to deliver the babies himself while the helicopter was flying over Lithgow.
“Another one involved a man who had been bitten by a shark attack at Bombo Beach a few years ago,” Terry said.
“This guy was dying at the time and he had a lot of blood loss. I remember he looked up at me and said, I’m going to die aren’t I?’ And I just said to him, ‘not on my watch, mate’.”
“He is still alive today. Those jobs give you the inspiration to continue.”
Despite the many positives Terry has experienced in his career, he has also faced challenges and tragedy in his personal life, which in turn have fuelled his motivation to keep helping others in need.
Terry discovered he had blood-related cancer several years ago and “died twice” during stem cell transfer before later going into remission.
And then there was the heartbreaking reason he pursued becoming an Intensive Care Paramedic.
“One of my children died of cot death,” he said.
“I couldn’t resuscitate my own son and that was devastating for me. After that happened, I thought I’ve got to do better….. I’ve got to do more. My son is who inspired me to became an ICP and I’ve never looked back.”
Terry – who has taken great pride in being able to save the lives of “thousands” of patients over the course of the past 50 years – also revels at the chance to help educate and mentor younger paramedics.
“I love doing that,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed being able to educate paramedics or talk to them about specific, advanced skills. I’m more than happy to sit down and educate them, look after them and make sure they are on track.”
Given everything Terry has given to the job, one might expect he is on the verge of pulling up stumps.
But he’s not ready to draw the curtains on his decorated career just yet.
“I’ve had a good ride and I will continue on for another couple of years, because I have such good staff and bosses around me,” he said.