As Steven Tougher's closest family and friends shared memories of him with thousands who attended and watched his memorial service, it was clear he was born for the job he died doing.
"From an early age, it was clear what was Steven's calling," his dad Jeff Tougher said, reading a speech written by Steven's mother Jill, at the service.
"When we went shopping, we would go to the toy shop if he was a good boy, and he would choose a toy. No cars, no trucks, no robots, Steven always chose a doctors kit.
"With his little stethoscope, he would spend hours checking my heartbeat and annoying his dad by constantly tapping his knee with a little plastic hammer to check his reflexes."
His parents also recalled the Christmas when Steven was about eight, when he raided their Band-aid stash and handed out homemade first aid kits to neighbours at a street party and popped hand-drawn flyers in people's letter boxes to say "if you need first aid, call Steven".
His sister Jess laughed as she remembered how her "lazy" little brother wouldn't get her a drink from the kitchen but that he was always at the ready with medical assistance.
"In Year 10 I gave blood and fainted, and when I got home from school I fainted again and Steven, at age 14, was checking if my pupils were dilated," she said.
Adding to the picture of a man destined to spend his life helping others, friend Mitchell Deane said Steven had been his hospital emergency contact since university and he'd never bothered to update it.
He will be forever memorialised as a young paramedic whose life was taken from him in the service of this state.- Premier Chris Minns
"He always wanted to be there to provide assistance, convincing me on a visit to the emergency department to make him my emergency contact," he said.
"Whenever there was a commotion or someone passed out on the kerb on a night out, he would be the first one to ensure everyone was okay."
Mr Deane said he had no doubt this friend chose the right career, as he progressed through the nursing ranks and then fulfilled his dream of becoming a paramedic.
These charming personal memories came in contrast to the the very public way Steven died.
The 29-year-old from Bulli was killed while taking a meal break at Campbelltown McDonald's, when he was allegedly stabbed to death inside his ambulance on April 14.
The shocking death sent ripples through emergency services across the state and country, which was evident in the thousands who flocked to the University of Wollongong for his farewell.
The state's highest officials paid tribute to a life spent helping others, with Premier Chris Minns saying the adrenaline-filled career of a paramedic was "a life he was determined to live from the very beginning".
"Whether we knew him or not, he represents the best of us: selfless, brave and dedicated, not motivated by wealth or by money or status, but the need to help others," Mr Minns said.
"Someone who was prepared to take a risk to his own life to help his fellow brother or sister, even though they were usually complete strangers, not expecting thanks, not accepting plaudits."
Mr Minns said Steven would "be forever memorialised as a young paramedic whose life was taken from him in the service of this state".
"The pain we feel today is partly driven by a deep longing to fill the blanks of a life that Stephen will not live," he said.
"What kind of a dad, and husband to Maddie, would Steven have been? How high would he have risen through the ranks of the NSW ambulance service? How many lives would he have saved?"
"Friends, in a few weeks' time, Steven's daughter will be born, it's our job now, for those who knew him and those who knew his acts and service to wrap that young girl in a blanket of stories about her dad.
"That he was a kind and dedicated man, full of empathy who died doing a job that he loved in the service of his state."
This was also the message in the heart-wrenching tribute from Steven's wife Madison, who cried and laughed as she spoke about their wedding day which came just seven weeks before his death.
"On that day, I made a promise to you, I vowed to love you for the rest of my days and I became your wife," she said.
"Today, just seven weeks later, I make a new vow to you. Today I vow that our two beautiful children will always know what a selfless hardworking, kind, and compassionate person you were.
"They will forever understand how their dad was a hero who helped people through the most painful and sickest times."
Health Minister Ryan Park assured the family they would have support in grief.
"To Steven - big in stature, big in heart - when we called Triple-0 you and your crew were there, we will be there for your family now," he said.
"I've been living in this region all my life, what we do is take care of our own and we will do that during the good days and the dark days that lie ahead."
In a sign of the public outpouring that has followed Steven's death, his memorial service was followed by a guard of honour.
Standing outside the university, his family stood face-to-face with a sea of blue, their faces contorted with grief as the hearse passed the hundreds of emergency service workers who lined the street.
University students, likely to be complete strangers, with tears in their eyes stopped to watch.
Helicopters sounded sirens overhead.
As Steven's family clung tightly to each other, their aching loss was shared.
The little boy who distributed Band-aids across his neighbourhood and the teenager who tenderly checked his sister's vitals was a man who dedicated his life to others, taken too soon.
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