‘I didn’t pick being paramedic, it picked me as a new career’ says county BEM award winner

John Radburn

John Radburn

First published in News Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

AFTER a horrific car crash at the age of 21, John Radburn decided to give up his job as an engineer and become one of Oxfordshire’s first paramedics.

Now the 63-year-old has been given a BEM for his 35-year stint at the South Central Ambulance Service, formerly known as the Oxfordshire Ambulance Service.

He said: “It came out of the blue, it was a big surprise, the letter just appeared.

“It was a very strange letter from the cabinet office written in 1500s English.

“When you do things like this you don’t do it for what you get out of it, but it was a very nice surprise.”

Mr Radburn, married to Maddy, 67, has two children Kathryn Colls, 44, and John Greenwood, 44.

He said it was a car crash on the A4095 between Witney and Bladon, in which a woman died, which made him re-evaluate what he wanted to do.

He was treated for a broken hip, ribs, wrist and head injuries at the old Radcliffe Infirmary in Jericho.

It was there he later completed his own training to become a paramedic.

He and colleague Bill Hounslow became the first two paramedics in Oxfordshire after a pilot training scheme at the hospital.

He said: “I didn’t pick it as a job, it picked me. The traffic accident put me in hospital for eight weeks and that gave me time to think.

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“I was taken to hospital by ambulance, but I wasn’t conscious on the journey there.

“That was before the days of paramedics.”

Mr Radburn joined the ambulance service in 1975 and in 1978 completed his paramedic training.

He also worked with the ambulance service’s medical director and the Oxford hospitals to bring in a new pain relief, Tramadol.

The born-and-bred Witney resident helped found the John Radcliffe Hospital-based charity Support for the Sick Newborn and their Parents in 1982, and the Oxfordshire Ambulance League of Friends – which for many years was the only charity supporting an ambulance service in the UK.

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