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End of ambulance road

John Wells on his last day at the Wellington Free Ambulance service. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

By Chelsea Boyle

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After just over 37 years of service, paramedic John Wells has seen a lot of injuries and illnesses, but he has also had a front row seat to the changing capabilities of ambulance teams.

Originally a school teacher, Mr Wells was eager to take a first aid course because he coached a rugby team.

Little did he know it would spark decades of service as a paramedic.

The way he tells it, he got talked into being a volunteer for the Greytown ambulance and the rest is history.

“I found I enjoyed ambulance work more than dealing with kids at school,” he said.

“When I first started on the ambulance I’d ring up friends still teaching, hear all their complaints, and decide I’d had a really good day compared to them.”

Helping people in the community was the best part of the job, he said.

Over the years what the ambulance service could do for people changed dramatically.

“It changed a heck of a lot,” Mr Wells said.

“When I started to volunteer in Greytown you basically just took people to hospital.

“Now we give so many more drugs and everything else, we can treat people who have meningococcal or septicaemia on the road before they get to hospital.”

They could dispense drugs to dissolve clots for stroke patients, and transmit the electrical activity of a patient’s heart to the coronary care team in Wellington, he said.

That information showed if a cardiac patient needed to be flown by helicopter to Wellington.

It was all about making sure the patient got the best care possible, he said.

Mr Wells is sure now is the right time to retire.

“I’ve seen so many people younger than me dead, you don’t know how long you have got . . . ”

An ambulance officer only gets two complete weekends off out of eight, he said.

“You often get invited to things on the weekend, or there are things on the weekend you would like to go to, and you can’t all the time.

“It’s about time I started going to some of the things I want to go to.”



  1. Well done John a real pleasure knowing you and working with ‘ll those tears ago.
    Enjoy your well earned retirement

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