After an impressive four-decade career with Toronto Paramedic Services, Greg Carter was able to sign off alongside two of his strongest supporters, and closest coworkers, on Thursday.
“Dispatch, ESU Two is now 10-7 at 51 Station. And I just wanted to say good night, and you guys carry on,” Carter calmly said, gently holding on to the radio inside the service’s ambulance bus for the final time Thursday afternoon.
“Thank you for your 40 years of service. You’ve accomplished what very few people have and that’s serving the community for 40 years and working your final shift with your two sons.”
One by one, as Carter looked on, several paramedics began thanking him over the radio for his work. But standing off to the side were sons Andrew Carter and Scott Carter, four- and five-year Toronto paramedics, respectively.
“I wasn’t sure it was going to happen, but we pulled it together for his last day,” Andrew said.
“It was an unforgettable day. Just getting to see my dad performing patient care is something I’ve never got to see.
“I’ve spoken to some of his old partners and gotten an idea of what he’s like, but to actually see him do it and see him perform what he’s done for the past 40 years was incredible.”
Scott said he has been trying to work on the same shift as his father for nearly half a decade.
“To finally have that come together, it’s been really special for sure,” he said.
“The main memory from today is watching him drive lights-and-sirens down the street. It’s an image I won’t get out of my head anytime soon — a big smile on his face.”
Greg reflected on his career during an interview with Global News on Thursday, saying he first thought about paramedicine in the late 1970s thanks to a friend he used to work with at Canadian Tire.
“I thought, ‘Oh, that sounds like a really great thing to get into.’ I did not dream it would be such a great career it would last 40 years,” he said.
After briefly working in Cobourg in 1979, Greg made the move to Toronto the following year. He said the complexity of care has changed dramatically over the past four decades.
“We went from doing what they call BOB — bed, oxygen, and blanket — and now we’re basically taking the emergency room right to the person’s home, or on the street, or on the highway, or wherever, really,” Greg said.
Growing up in a home where their father was a paramedic and their mother was a nurse, Scott and Andrew said they were both naturally drawn to paramedicine.
The brothers said their dad has been an invaluable resource for them, adding that while they enjoy their careers, they’re unsure if they, too, will be able to work in the same job over four decades.
“Anytime I was in a rough point or having trouble in my studies, he was always there to support me, give me some advice and give me some pointers,” Andrew said.
“He’s been a very good backbone. If you have a tough day at work, you can always come home and look for guidance at home,” Scott added.
When asked what he wished he knew when he began working as a paramedic 40 years ago, Greg was enthusiastic in his reply.
“Do it again. It was an enjoyable experience … it’s exciting every day. Every day is different,” he said, adding he loved meeting members of the public.
“People tell you things they would never tell their own family members and they’ll tell us because they want our help.”
As for what comes next, he said it will involve relaxing and travelling.
“Watch my boys do some work for a change,” Greg joked.
“I hope they take care of my sons in the future.”