A Spalding man who was the region’s first ever paramedic has celebrated his 40th year in the ambulance service.
Tony Fell (62) joined the service aged 22 and still works full time in what he described as “the best job in the world”.
“It’s been a great joy to serve people in the community at their time of need,” he said.
Tony joined the force in 1977, working out of Spalding Ambulance Station.
He can still vividly remember his first job after he completed his eight-week basic training, and said that’s something every ambulance worker shares.
In the late 1980s, paramedic training was introduced and in July of 1991 Tony became Spalding’s first ever paramedic.
“When I started we trained as qualified ambulancemen with basic first aid. Paramedic training involved learning to perform more invasive procedures,” Tony said.
In 1993, Tony and joined a team of healthcare support workers on a mission to Bosnia, called Operation Angel. The team evacuated 98 wounded childen and their families through the war-torn region.
Four years later, Tony reached what he said was another highlight of his career, passing the selection process to work on the newly formed Air Ambulance.
Starting in 1997, he served with the air ambulance crew for one week a month alongside his regular ambulance duties.
Looking back at his career so far, Tony recalled a handful of jobs that stuck in his mind.
He was called to attend a “little old lady driving her Mini late at night who ran into a herd of cows that had gone across the road and killed three calves”.
Also, “a man and wife were attacked by an over-amorous ostrich and trampled on, that was a do,” he said.
While working with the air ambulance, he attended a “plucky young chap” who lost his arm in a hay baler. The man retrieved it, walked to the farmhouse and put it in a box of frozen fruit to keep it chilled.
Tony – the longest service ambulanceman in Lincolnshire – said that five years ago he stepped back to the rank of emergency care assistant, which he said “it’s less responsibility, mentally” due to reduced decision making in the field.
Tony said he’ll likely retire aged 66 but in the meantime continues to enjoy his work, which is now based out of Holbeach.
“It’s been a joy to serve the community and a privilege to meet people’s needs.
“It’s been an amazing journey, and I’ve been able to support my dear wife and my family.”
Tony is married to Susan and has two children and grandchildren.
Tony said he looks back and now sees he was guided into the service. At 13 years old he’d assist elderly people from
Johnson Hospital’s Avalon ward to chapel on a Sunday and a few years later he saw a woman who’d been knocked off her bike and waited with her until the ambulance came.
But it wasn’t until his wedding that Tony went for the job. “The photographer at our wedding was an ambulanceman and said there was a position going in Spalding. It came at the right time, a real secure job right at the beginning of our lives together and up to the present day.
“It’s the best job in the world,” Tony said. “I’ve my share of tragedies and my share of happiness.”
Throughout his career, Tony has delivered five babies en route to hospital.