David Mangan never planned to be a paramedic, but life is about what we do when unplanned opportunities are presented to us.
David's last working day as a paramedic was on Friday, October 9 having celebrated four decades at Mudgee Ambulance Station. David is the longest ever serving employee by a significant margin.
David said he made the conscious decision to retire after 40 years, knowing to listen to his body which was telling him it was time to stop.
"I don't have to do the upkeep to to be a registered paramedic anymore. It's fairly full on and gets very much harder as you get older," he said.
"When I got to this year, I think my body and my brain were telling me it was time. I'm getting out before something breaks, basically."
An auspicious beginning
As a young man, David was working odd jobs that looking back he admitted 'weren't going to go very far'. David was living in Walgett at the time and local station officer approached David with an opportunity.
"The Station Officer of my hometown in Walgett came to see me one day and said, 'Do you want a job? We need someone to come out here'," David said.
David knew he had to do something that was more than just the jobs he was working, so he accepted.
You know, his love for the job for 40 odd years - irreplaceable. But saying that, we've got to assure Mudgee that the because of the likes of David and his work with new paramedics coming on board Mudgee is in very safe hands.Acting Superintendent Nigel Hardwick
"I went to the training school in Sydney. I did my four weeks there. I came to Mudgee to do my training, which is a 12-month - like an apprenticeship type thing.
"I didn't really want to go back to Walgett if I could help it. And the opportunity came up to apply for a position that was vacant here [in Mudgee] at the time. And so I applied, not thinking that I would get it.
"But I did. And I've been here ever since." 40 years and six months to be exact.
The more things change...
Helping people when they're at their most vulnerable isn't something to be taken lightly.
David said one of the biggest things that has changed in his 40 years has been the vehicles and the technology and habits that keep people safe.
"Some of the contemporaries of my time still think that the old Ford V8 250s were the best Ambulance around, but they were a heap of junk," he said.
"These are much better to work out of. They just, you know, they fit everything in. Certainly, technology has increased dramatically.
"Everything has improved a lot, since I first started - dramatically improved. We now have a range of medications that we can use that weren't available then.
Motor vehicle accidents are something David said stands out as having changed the most dramatically since 1980.
"There are not as many as there used to be and people don't get as seriously injured as they used to," he said.
"Simply because we have better cars, better safety systems, better roads, better signage, all of those sorts of things. So you still get serious car accidents, but compared to when I started, it's a noticeable difference. It's a long time since I've seen someone die in a car accident. A long time.
"It still happens of course. But not nearly as frequently, and certainly not the big injuries that we used to see. Yeah, I don't see a lot of those."
Acting Superintendent Nigel Hardwick was there on Friday to congratulate David on his milestone and said he will leave a lasting impression on the station's culture and staff.
"Somebody like Dave, they don't come along very much, it's gonna be a big loss," he said.
"His legacy to Mudgee and the community really is his experience and his mentorship.
"You know, his love for the job for 40 odd years - is irreplaceable. But saying that, we've got to assure Mudgee that because of the likes of David and his work with new paramedics coming on board that Mudgee is in very safe hands."
Superintendent Hardwick said David will be missed, and his legacy will be one of quality.
"I'll be perfectly frank, he will be sorely missed," he said.
"But there's that much camaraderie around the station that there won't be dropped heads. But it's like an end of an era.
"Everybody respected Dave, but time must move on. People just get on with the next stage of their job. But yes, it will be different around the station. People will feel his loss, the fact that he is not there.
"But it's the team that that makes Mudgee station what it is. And they all support each other as well and they will just have to do it without Dave."
David said he looks forward to sleeping in and taking things a little easier.