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“Everybody wants to say that delivering babies is the high point of their career — well, maybe for the attendant but not necessarily for the lady that’s delivering the baby.”
Christie, who lives in Kingston, said at the beginning of his career he was simply known as a driver and helper.
“All I had was a first-aid certificate and chauffer’s licence, Christie, who started his career in June 1969, said. “A chauffer’s licence let you drive anything.”
To say paramedic services have advanced a long way since Christie started in the business would be an understatement.
But over those five decades, Christie was able to keep his training up with the times.
When he started, a lot of the ambulances were converted hearses or station wagons with a single red emergency light on top.
Christie said many local businesses operated ambulances, including the Robert Reid Funeral Home on Barrie Street, assorted garages and taxi companies.
“The funeral homes ran it because they had the vehicles big enough and they had a stretcher in the back, of course,” he said. “It was the joke that they won either way.”
The provincial government took the responsibility for ambulance service in 1968, but private operators were allowed to offer their services until their contracts ran out, Christie said.
Ford Econoline vans replaced various automobiles at that point, he said.
Early in his career, Christie was hired to work out of Hotel Dieu Hospital.
“When I first started, I was making so little money I had to work more than one ambulance service,” he said.