He’s seen locals into and out of this world, and been the calm presence in times of crisis; but after 40 years, Inspector Garry Baldwin of the Inverell Ambulance Service is finally ready to call it a day.
“I’m going to walk away as a happy man. Hopefully I’ve done my little bit to assist the community,” he said.
When he first helped set up the Inverell Ambulance Service workshop in 1977, he never dreamed the job would lead to a life-long career.
“Never even crossed my mind,” Inspector Baldwin said. The duty operations manager is finally retiring after 40 years working in emergency services in the region.
“This is not a job for every man and his dog,” Inspector Baldwin admitted.
“There’s good stuff to it, there’s bad stuff to it – but I’ve had an absolute magic time through my career.
“I’ve had some hard days, but most of the time the good days have outweighed the bad by a long way. I’ve had a blast all the way through.”
Affectionately known as ‘Baldy’, Inspector Baldwin was initially trained as an automotive engineer with Barry’s Motors, and took care of health vehicles in the north west.
“Because we had an ex marked up ambulance we had to do a first aid course,” Inspector Baldwin explained. Stepping into an honoury position turned into an ambulance officer job and eventually led to overseeing the entire Macintyre cluster, which includes Inverell, Ashford, Warialda, Moree and Mungindi.
Inspector Baldwin has worked in almost every position in the local station, including clinical support manager, operations support manager, acting zone manager and station officer.
“I think it’s pretty unique and I don’t think there are too many have been able to do all that from start to go at the one station,” he said.
He said the difficult job, which involved staying calm in times of crisis and sometimes even treating his own friends, required a positive attitude from co-workers and strong backing from family.
Inspector Baldwin’s wife Jenny and two sons Justin and Lucas have helped him along the way.
“It’s a whole family job,” he said.
“A lot of times you’ve organised to go out and the phone rings, and you usually drop what you’re doing and go and do it.”
Finally handing the reigns over on July 21, Inspector Baldwin can’t wait to join Jenny in retirement. The pair are planning to travel around Australia.
“Two reasons: one - (we’re) young enough and fit enough to do it and two - the dementia won’t be that bad and we’ll be able to remember it,” he said.
Despite his long and prestigious career, Inspector Baldwin remained humble.
“I just look at it that I’ve got a few skills and if the big fella upstairs is happy with the way I’m working and we get a win, well, great; if we don’t, I know I’ve given it my best shot.
“I’ve never had any regrets to say ‘if only’. I’ve always treated everyone with the utmost respect to the best of my ability and that lets me sleep at night.”
A farewell dinner will be held at the RSM Club this Saturday from 6.30pm. The $30 cost covers a two course meal and gift.
To RSVP, transfer the funds to Regional Australia Bank Inverell First Aid – Ambulance by Wednesday, June 21; BSB: 932 000, account number: 302042. Include the surname and number of guests in the reference.