A quarter of a century ago, Sandy Macken, the 400th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, was working as a PE teacher and was very unhappy with the career path she’d chosen.

One night, Sandy happened to bump into a group of paramedics and instantly realised this was the job she should’ve been doing all along, if only the idea had occurred to her. Sandy is a caring, empathetic person, who, when she was growing up, had been one of those children who bandaged her teddy bears and enjoyed watching medical dramas. 

From day one, working for NSW Ambulance exceeded Sandy’s expectations.

Sandy loves the opportunity to do meaningful work, the varied nature of the job and the black humour of her colleagues. She also loves the family atmosphere within the ambulance service.

The job, though, does have its downsides – there’s nothing fun about treating people with horrific injuries or being called to domestic violence incidents. Over the years, the trauma can accumulate, one incident at a time.

During night shifts, paramedics often doze between callouts, but you don’t get to sleep for long. So, a few years ago, Sandy found a better use for her time, by writing a memoir, called Paramedic, which recounts a series of notable incidents during her years in the ambulance service. Sandy was kind enough to give me a copy, which I’m looking forward to reading.