Date published: 28 February 2024

A dedicated ambulance technician began his retirement last month. Geoff Gargett says he will spend his time playing golf and travelling the world.

Geoff, 68, lives in Spalding and joined the ambulance service in April 1994. This means he was only a few months away from 30 years' service.

Before East Midlands Ambulance Service, Geoff was an inspector for the Automobile Association (AA).

Geoff transferred from the AA to the ambulance service after encouragement from friends. This was because of his friendly and outgoing nature.

Geoff said: "My role was to pick up patients with complex health needs. Their conditions meant they needed support attending regular hospital appointments.

"A Key skill for this role was being able to build a trusting relationship with my patients. You would be spending long periods of time with them over weeks and months.

"Clinical knowledge for the role was important, but so was being able to comfort, relax, and put people at ease.

"For some patients, this was the only time they left their house. I'd be one of the few people they'd see that week. It was a privileged role to have, and I enjoyed it."

In 1996 Geoff began his training to work on our Accident and Emergency (A&E) frontline. This is where our colleagues respond to patients in life-threatening situations.

Geoff added: "I did six weeks' training in Liverpool then came back to do two more weeks in Lincolnshire. Afterwards I was a fully qualified ambulance technician.

"Back then once you completed your training that was it. Staff today receive annual refresher training, updating their skills to support our patients.

"This supports our continuous professional development (CPD) and gives us more expansive knowledge."

For Geoff, being a frontline clinician is a vocation rather than just a job. It was action taken by Geoff while he was off duty that led him to receive a Chief Executive's Commendation.

Geoff said: "I was on a day off and was travelling home when I saw a parachute drop from the sky very fast.

"I went to investigate to find a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot had crashed into a field. I was the first on scene and provided care to the pilot before other resources arrived.

"We were soon joined by the Air Ambulance, Lincolnshire Police and the RAF Police. They took over responsibility for his care.”

Geoff has never truly switched off from the role - recounting other occasions his skill has been needed.

Geoff observed: "Everyone who knows me knows my ambulance role and background.

"I received a knock on my door one evening for a neighbour in cardiac arrest. I went over to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until an on-duty ambulance crew arrived.

"I can't see anyone hurting or in distress and not do anything to help, whether on duty or not."

Speaking about his plans for the future is a bittersweet experience for Geoff. He is happy to spend time with his family and focus on his hobbies. But an unexpected diagnosis led Geoff to an earlier than planned retirement.

He explained: "I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease which began to impact my ability to perform my duties.

"This has been life-changing for me and my family. When something like this happens, you need to take time to re-evaluate things.

"It's not lost on me that there are always other less fortunate.

"I'll be using my early retirement to take extended family holidays and play more golf."

In recognition of his long service to EMAS, Geoff was presented with an award. This was bestowed to him by Annie Berry (his Station Manager) and Sue Cousland (Divisional Director for Lincolnshire).

Annie Berry added: “Geoff has always been a great member of staff to work alongside and have on station.

“He is like a little ray of sunshine, always having a broad smile and welcome greeting.

“He is a compassionate clinician that would go the extra mile to make someone feel reassured and supported.

“He will be missed by his crew mates but we hope to keep seeing him at social events and gatherings.”

Tomas Picha, a close colleague who Geoff considers a son, said: “Geoff is friendly, compassionate and so well liked by staff and patients alike.

“His optimistic and happy character is contagious.

“Geoff is the best crew mate ever and I wish every staff member could have a ‘canny lad’ like him.”