33 YEARS IN THE JOB: Advanced care paramedic Rod Klein is still haunted by memories of some of the accidents he has attended.
33 YEARS IN THE JOB: Advanced care paramedic Rod Klein is still haunted by memories of some of the accidents he has attended. Philippe Coquerand

Gympie paramedic haunted by memories but still loves his job

THE memories of a child killed in a horrific car crash are still raw for one of Gympie's most experienced paramedics.

In the 33 years on the job, advanced care paramedic Rod Klein said he had handled everything from stabbings, self harm and even motor-vehicle crashes.

But there's one incident that haunts him on a daily basis.

"The hardest aspect of the job is when you can't help children,” Mr Klein said.

"My particular job that day that is still stuck in my mind is a boy who was the same age as my son at the time and I had to call that.”

Mr Klein said as a father himself, seeing a boy killed in tragic circumstances brought home the realisation that it could have been his son.

"The boy was involved in a fatal crash in the Gympie region,” he said.

"I think about the incident from time to time, but in your career there's multiple incidents that stay with you, it's part of the job.”

Mr Klein said his coping mechanism over 33 years had been to keep "working.”

"I think it's in your mechanism, in your metabolism, it's in your system. My mother was a nurse and my father was an honorary paramedic and my sister's a nurse, so it's in your genes,” he said.

"My coping mechanism is work. When I leave here I work harder at home and outside the ambulance service.”

Mr Klein has worked permanently in Murgon, Dalby, Charleville, Aramac, Blackall and Gympie.

In 2004, Mr Klein decided to help parents fit baby capsules and child restraints in cars after attending many crashes with children.

"I get enjoyment out of seeing people drive away knowing their child is safe,” he said.

"I've been to so many prangs with kids involved.

"But I haven't dealt with a child that's injured when they've been properly restrained.”

Mr Klein fits an average of five car seats a week; checking each seat to see if it is Australian standard, if the outer casing is damage free and if the seatbelts are in good condition - without fraying or twisting.

Mr Klein said people who have fitted seats themselves are unaware of the danger of having belts twisted or the seat too tight or loose.

The Queensland Ambulance Service has one of the best peer support services available to its paramedics and staff if needed, Mr Klein said.

"The service offers you counsellors and peer support for staff when you need it.”

For those considering a job as a paramedic, Mr Klein believes you need life experience.

"I think you need good communication skills. Go volunteer somewhere or work at McDonald's, that way you know how to handle people at their best and worst of times,” he said.

"It's a great job as long as you're prepared to study for the rest of your life and to help people.”

Mr Klein loves his job as a paramedic and says he wakes up every morning with a positive attitude.

"I rock up to work 30 minutes before my shift to do vehicle inspections and to have a coffee in the morning. You never know when you're going to get a call out,” he said.

Mr Klein thanked his staff and Dr Stephen Rashford (QAS medical director).