Paramedic Derek calls it a day

By Sarah ChambersFROM attending the scene of an IRA bomb to delivering more babies than many midwives, paramedic Derek Turner has seen it all.Now, after 30 years' service, he is switching off his bleeper and looking forward to devoting more time to gardening, golf, sailing and running his rural B and B in Friston, near Saxmundham.

By Sarah Chambers

FROM attending the scene of an IRA bomb to delivering more babies than many midwives, paramedic Derek Turner has seen it all.

Now, after 30 years' service, he is switching off his bleeper and looking forward to devoting more time to gardening, golf, sailing and running his rural B and B in Friston, near Saxmundham.

Among his many achievements since arriving in the Saxmundham area seven years ago is setting up ground-breaking first aid groups.


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The groups of community volunteers, established within the past couple of years, are able to deliver first aid at the scene of medical emergencies in the vital seconds and minutes before ambulance crews can get there.

Mr Turner, a grandfather-of-four, has trained up 60 volunteers, who are now working as community responders in Dunwich, Darsham, Leiston, Aldeburgh and Orford.

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He worked at the Saxmundham health clinic as a community paramedic, but before that he was an ambulance paramedic based at the town's ambulance station.

Before moving to Suffolk, Mr Turner was on the emergency front-line, working in London's East End at Whitechapel for many years.

His crew was one of the first at the scene after the IRA bomb explosion at Canary Wharf - and the memory of that day has lived with him. "The noise of the bomb I'll never forget to the day I die," he said.

Mr Turner was sitting in an ambulance at the time and as soon as the bomb went off, realising what it was, the crew headed towards the sound - even though they were unsure whether another was bomb explosion about to follow.

"There were lots of nasty injuries," he recalled. "I was virtually the first one at the Canary Wharf bombing. You go to a bombing and it's absolutely silent and all you can hear is broken glass. Other than that, it's silence."

He also attended the King's Cross fire disaster and the scene of various train accidents.

While at Whitechapel, he delivered close to 100 babies - including twins - and saved many people from dying of potentially fatal heart attacks.

"There are occasions when people don't survive, but you just feel you have done the best you are able to on that particular occasion," he said.

Mr Turner plans to keep in touch with his responder teams and to return from time-to-time to help refresh their training.

Paul Nichols, co-ordinator of the Leiston First Responders, said: "He has given countless hours of his own time to people like us and other organisations that could benefit from his 30 years experience as a medic.

"Even though he has now retired, he has offered to help out with some of our training sessions. Derek has shown us all a great deal of friendship and patience. We all wish him a happy retirement."

sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk

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