Kerry Thompson will hand in his NSW Ambulance uniform this month to farewell decades of service to the community and saving lives.
Better known as Kez, the lively 62-year-old's inherent will to help others and listen to people's stories has take him to places most would only see on television or the internet.
From treating victims of a terrorist bombing in Casula, sifting through rubble for survivors in the 1997 Thredbo landslide, working as a Lifeline telephone counselor, 500 missions as an intensive care paramedic on Careflight, to volunteering with the Red Cross during the 1994 Rwandan Civil War.
"Privileged" and "fortunate" were common words he used to describe his illustrious career.
"I just like challenges," Mr Thompson told the Mercury. "I like to get out and I need to learn."
He's been awarded various medals for bravery and service, but they sit tucked up in a drawer.
Working in Africa during a time of great need was an honour and probably his biggest achievement, he said, but it was a steep learning curve - like "climbing up a vertical cliff".
"Obviously there's lots of scars from being in the middle of a genocide ... but it was a privilege and we did an amazing amount of work," he said.
"We saved thousands of lives and certainly makes me sympathetic to the plight of refugees."
Back home there have been many more rewarding moments, like working as an emergency dispatcher on the phone and keeping an injured and trapped driver calm until paramedics arrived.
"He was in the country and ... rolled and went down a ditch - he didn't know what road he was on," Mr Thompson recalled.
"I talked to him for about an hour on his phone, we had emergency vehicles with their lights flashing and finally he saw the flashing lights."
There has also been the comical moments, like stories of the rich and famous "who'd rather not be named for how I met them", he laughed.
But those tales you'll only hear at the pub.
Mr Thompson's career has also been mentally challenging due to the "psychological load", but it's something he'll continue to work on in retirement.
"We need to be more open and honest about it in order to help people," Mr Thompson said.
Kez's giving nature will also continue, as a founding board member of Shoalhaven Health and Arts, a service to "show people creativity is a way of helping mental health".
He's also joined "an old fart's sailing club".
With a medical career spanning four decades, Mr Thompson feels incredibly privileged to have met people from all walks of life and listen to their stories.
"Nobody is boring when you really get to hear their story," he said.
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