Ian Ridley -Emergency Services
Ian Ridley often walks into somebody's life right at the worst point.
Based in Dunedin, he has been a St John paramedic for 33 years, specialising in Otago Westpac Helicopter Rescue.
But he said knowing he is helping them at the one of the worst moments in their life, means he can go home at night feeling pretty good.
After years of helping other families deal with tragedy, Mr Ridley suffered his own, losing his son in a car crash four-and-a-half years ago.
"I always thought I had been pretty empathetic, and I was ... But I thought I knew how people felt.
"Until you have been through it, you have no idea," he said.
"I now know, losing a loved one is like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat."
Mr Ridley was not sure whether he would be able to continue in his line of work, after the event.
But he knew his son would have wanted him to keep helping others.
"It really changed my perspective - it's a life-changing thing.
"I understand the process they are about to go through, which may take years.
"So you've got to be very careful."
Mr Ridley, however, never assumes to know exactly what someone is feeling and said it is not helpful to say that you do.
This dedication has earned him a Pride of New Zealand nomination, in the Emergency Services category.
"Like many, his life will never be the same and although he continues to have daily personal challenges associated with his loss, he continues to get on with it and give his all to his community," his nominator said.
Mr Ridley, an engineer, joined St John as a volunteer after a former teacher encouraged him.
At first, he was not convinced the role was for him but soon changed his mind and "thoroughly enjoyed it".
He became a fulltime employee 26 years ago.
The area he covers with the helicopter team is the entire lower half of the South Island.
"Sometimes it can be a frustrating job but wonderfully satisfying when you help someone and there's a good outcome for that person."
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