Experience as St John paramedic provides inspiration for author's book

John Ford and his son Mitchell in the book From the Driver's Seat.
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John Ford and his son Mitchell in the book From the Driver's Seat.

Suicide, unusual deaths and devastating events are what former Waikato man John Ford confronted during his time as an ambulance driver.

He shares it all in his new book From the Driver's Seat.

Ford grew up in Cambridge in the 1970s. His interest in St John was piqued following an open day at the town hall, explaining the role of an ambulance driver.

It led on to further work and study to qualify as an advanced paramedic.

"Cambridge was a quiet town back then, and we would attend maybe one or two incidents a day, but there were some big crashes on SH1," he said.

"Back then there were no paid staff, so it was 24-hour voluntary work, and there were no cell phones so we would sit by the phone and wait.

"Eventually we got pagers, which freed us up a little bit, and finally cell phones came about."

In 1993, he moved to Auckland to further his career with St John.

He said one of the most tragic incidents he remembered was when a young man took his own life.

"We had picked up a mentally ill patient and had taken him to Auckland Hospital, but he was deemed low risk and was allowed to leave."

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Ford's team was on its way back to the hospital after picking up another patient when they discovered the man had died.

That, and other experiences prompted him to step down from the rapid response team and instead pursue other work as a paramedic.

"I wanted to write this book so people can see the really fun, sad and quite traumatic things front line staff deal with," he said.

"It gives readers a new appreciation of the people who devote themselves to working in the dangerous yet exciting world of our emergency services."

The book also shares his experience driving high end cabs, working at Mt Eden Prison, and becoming a funeral director.

He now works as a nurse at the Hawke's Bay Prison.

 - Stuff

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