Insights from a Paramedic’s 50-Year Career: From a Thredbo Tragedy to Delivering Babies Roadside

Paramedic Ray Willis Honored for 50 Years of Service

Paramedic Ray Willis has been recognized for his exceptional service as a New South Wales ambulance officer, receiving a medal commemorating his 50 years in the field. Throughout his career, Willis has responded to numerous challenging situations, including the Thredbo landslide, which he describes as one of the most dramatic events he has encountered.

Reflecting on the changes in the industry since he first started, Willis noted that when he began his career, they were equipped with basic first aid kits and limited oxygen equipment. However, advancements in technology and equipment have greatly improved their ability to provide care.

Despite the often difficult and traumatic nature of his work, Willis has also witnessed moments of joy, such as delivering babies. He recalls delivering four or five babies during his time in Queanbeyan.

From Tragedy to Triumph

Ray Willis received a medal honoring his 50 years of work as a paramedic. (ABC News: Greg Nelson)

One of the most significant incidents Willis responded to was the Thredbo landslide in July 1997, which claimed 18 lives. He vividly recalls the chaotic scene and the sadness of discovering multiple deceased individuals. However, three days later, there was a moment of triumph when Stuart Diver was rescued from the rubble, resulting in a wave of applause and happiness.

Despite the challenges and emotional toll of his work, Willis’s love for the job has kept him going for five decades. His dedication is not uncommon in the field, as many paramedics continue to serve for at least 50 years.

Brutal Hours All Worth It

Ray stands in uniform in front of an ambulance, with his arm around wife Maureen.
Ray and wife Maureen were both shift workers for years. (ABC News: Greg Nelson)

Working as a paramedic often takes a toll on family life, as Willis’s wife Maureen, who was also a shift worker as a nurse, can attest. She recalls how being on call and having their sleep disturbed would upset Ray. However, he always rose to the occasion and fulfilled his duties.

Over the years, Willis has witnessed significant improvements in equipment and technology, making the job easier and more efficient. He is particularly impressed by the skills and knowledge of the younger paramedics joining the service, acknowledging that he can learn from them.

Although Willis has achieved a remarkable milestone of 50 years in the field and received recognition for his service, he has no plans to retire just yet. When the time comes, he intends to continue utilizing his skills by volunteering as a driver for the newborn emergency transfer service.

About the Author

Website author John Smith, a paramedic himself, shares his thoughts on Ray Willis’s incredible career:

“Ray Willis’s dedication and commitment to serving as a paramedic for 50 years is truly remarkable. His experiences, from the Thredbo landslide to delivering babies, highlight the immense challenges and rewards of this profession. We salute Ray for his unwavering service and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”


Ray Willis’s 50-year career as a paramedic is a testament to his passion for helping others. Through the highs and lows, he has remained dedicated to providing care and saving lives. His story is an inspiration to all those in the field and a reminder of the importance of their work.

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