"I was 23 when I started at the ambulance service on August 8, 1977.

I’d always had a notion for it, I don’t know why. I was working as an electrician in Kilbirnie and I had a friend who was in it.

I’d got married and we were just back from the honey moon when I got word that I had got the job.

Then I had to go away and leave her for six weeks.

The training was at the old Gartloch Hospital near Glasgow.

You only went for six weeks then you were released on the public.

The training was quite basic, it was just first aid, they called it ambulance aid. Taught you CPR and about the equipment, it was more about moving and handling.

The only things we had were bandages, blankets, oxygen and Entonox – which has just been introduced for pain relief. That was about your lot.

Initially I got sent to Irvine and did my probationary period there for two years.

Then I asked for a transfer to Kilbirnie.

In ambulances in those days, you occasionally still had single-manning – You could get sent to something completely on your own.

It wasn’t unusual to be sent as the first response to a road accident. That was pretty scary.

Irvine Times:

The very first serious road accident I attended was at the crossroads at Burnhouse.

I was crapping myself, it was horrendous. Initially running about like a headless chicken. But you remember what they taught you.

The patient I dealt with had a really serious head injury, so I was trying to maintain their airway.

He was unconscious. So it was case of keeping him going and keeping him alive, getting him to hospital.

I probably remember it because it was the first bad thing I attended. I remember he vomited. Back in those days you didn’t have any gloves. Your hands got covered in blood and vomit.

It’s amazing how it’s not that long until you get into the swing of the job.

You’re always a bit uptight about attending a crash. You just get there and get on with it.

In Kilbirnie, about 20 or 25 years ago there was a big fire.

That was really horrendous. It was only me and my partner, initially. That always sticks in my mind. When we arrived, the firefighters had started to bring people out. They kept bringing child after child.

I ended up with four children in the back of the ambulance. I was thinking, I’ve not got four pairs of hands. I did try. The poor wee things were all gone. They didn’t go to hospital.

Five children and their mother were killed.

Every time you’re dealing with children it’s quite stressful, it is upsetting. Some people go through their whole career without seeing a child, I was unfortunate, I dealt with quite a lot. Maybe just because I did it for 43 years.

You do think about things. You dwell on it for a wee while. Then you’ve to try and put it out of your mind.

You see a side of life that the general public will never see. But that’s the job you take on, you go into it to help folk.

You do have empathy for them, but it’s not your grief, it’s their grief.

It’s a huge event in their lives and you’re involved in it for a while. You’re part of their grief for that moment, and you just try and do your best for them.

There are sad jobs and there are good jobs, like delivering babies.

I only delivered two in all my years.

Irvine Times:

The very first time, it was at the very end of a night shift, it was half past six in the morning and I was finishing at seven. I was quite grumpy getting called out at the end of the shift.

It was just supposed to be a maternity going into Irvine Central.

When I got into the living room, the lady was lying on a chair and the baby’s head was crowning. That fairly wakes you up.

It’s quite worrying, you’re always scared about complications. Luckily the two I delivered were straightforward. You talk her through it and tell her to remember about the ante-natal classes. You catch it and hopefully it starts crying quite quickly, you hand it to the mother.

It’s a lovely feeling."

Do you have a story to share? Click here to tell us about it