Nelson life a lure for paramedic

Last updated 12:00 08/02/2014

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A paramedic of 13 years who served in Christchurch during the quakes has decided to move to Nelson in favour of family and the outdoors.

Carlton Irving first decided to become a St John paramedic after his musical career was put on hold at the age of 22, when his lead band member broke his leg while on tour.

The 35-year-old was talking to the paramedics in the ambulance while riding to the hospital when it dawned on him that he had found his calling.

He began his training in Rotorua and decided to move to Christchurch after the earthquakes.

While paramedics generally contributed to the cause for two weeks, he thought it would not do him any justice, so instead he decided to set up camp permanently.

"I would have felt like a disaster tourist if I did not stay."

It was hard working through the aftershocks, but the stressful nature of the work happened everywhere.

He has always loved his job because it was more than a career, it was a vocation.

"You are not drawn to the glitz and glamour of the job because of the blood and gore. It is not sustainable. All we care about is the people you are trying to save. You would not last otherwise."

There had to be a higher purpose to get out of bed at 3am on a regular basis, he said. Cynics did not survive.

After almost two years he thought it was time to move home to Nelson last December.

He had always intended to move to Nelson to be with family, but it was his love of the outdoors that really made him gravitate to the region.

He particularly liked rock climbing and surfing. It was a great way to let off steam after an emergency callout, he said.

The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter crew was great at ensuring there were effective coping mechanisms in place.

They were also a great group of positive "hard cases".

"I think it is because when we are working it is really stressful and there is no room for error, so once we come back to base there is a lot of horsing around."

He was known as "Captain Healthy", in part because he was a vegetarian he said.

He and his long-term partner Jane, are planning to marry in the near future.

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- The Nelson Mail

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