Birkenhead paramedic talks about his 46-year service with NWAS

Sector Manager and Paramedic Paul Townley is based in Birkenhead and today, celebrates his 46th year in service and is one of the longest-serving Team North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) members.

Paul could have found himself taking a different career path had it not been for a split decision he made when he was younger.

Back in January 1975, Paul had two interviews in one week; one for the ambulance service and one to be a telegram delivery boy. He was offered employments for both jobs on the same day and it just so happened to be cold and rainy that day. The thought of riding around on a motorbike in the bad weather didn’t appeal to Paul, so he chose the ambulance service!

NWAS got together with Paul for a chat to help celebrate his long service with them:

Hi Paul, we’re keen to hear about your 46-year career so far. Tell us what you love about your job?

It has to be the diverse mixture of people you meet; nearly all the people and patients I came into contact with as a paramedic really do appreciate your help. I’ve met so many interesting and varied people and made a lot of friends over the years.

You must have seen many changes as a paramedic over the years, what stands out as being the biggest change for the better?

Definitely the introduction of paramedic training in 1986; it was the biggest game changer for delivering emergency care. Thank to this, we have been able to deliver life-saving interventions with all the training and equipment now available which has been fantastic for our patients.  I have no doubt that there are many people walking about today because they came into contact with a paramedic crew at their time of need and received life-saving treatment from them. 

What do you do in your current job role?

I’ve moved from an operations manager for our paramedic emergency service two years ago and during this time, I have been working in service development which has been really challenging but interesting. I have been involved in the management of projects such as building better rotas for staff, leading on the COVID-19 management for the Cheshire and Merseyside area and supporting our vaccination programme for staff.

In my 46-year career, I cannot remember any events that have had such an effect on the ambulance service and the country as a whole as the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been an enormous challenge for everyone and we have all pulled together to ensure we could keep helping the people of the North West. We will all know someone who has been affected by COVID-19 and hopefully we are now starting to turn the corner as we head towards some form of normality later in the year. 

What have been the toughest parts of your job?

There have been many tough times over the years and my experience as a manager within the service has enabled me to deal with most difficult situations. I find that tough decisions can be made and delivered more easily providing you do with openness, honesty and dignity. I have to say that in my role as an operations manager, handling bereavement and delivering sad news to families and friends was always tough.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about a career in the ambulance service?

I would encourage them! There is no doubt that there is now a clear career path for people to work towards, unlike pre-1986 when I started. There are so many varied departments within the ambulance service; it is also one of the few jobs that will provide a career for life, if you wish to choose it to be. It is a job, regardless of our role, where you will meet and make many friends.

Congratulations Paul and thank you for your 46 years of service!

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