Eastbourne paramedic retires after 47 years in the emergency services

A paramedic serving the Eastbourne and Hailsham areas has retired after 47 years in the emergency services.

David Keeley, who now lives in Lower Willingdon, retired last week from the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb), where he’s mostly served in the Eastbourne and Hailsham areas.

David said, “I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s been a varied career.”

David started in 1986 in Crowborough before moving to Hailsham to complete a two-year secondment as a paramedic to the Police Helicopter Hotel 900 based in Shoreham.

David receiving his retirement gifts from James Pavey (head of production and workforce planing at SECAmb) SUS-210915-095323001

During his first flight in the helicopter, he performed the rescue of a live casualty at Beachy Head who had fallen a considerable distance down the cliff face and sustained multiple life threatening injuries.

David abseiled down to the casualty with the assistance of HM Coastguard, before treating him and being winched off by the RAF and transported to Eastbourne DGH.

During his years of service he’s been part of a number of teams including the offshore rescue team, cliff rescue team and public order team.

David arranged for an ambulance service mountain bike to be provided and used this for many years at Airbourne – providing quicker cover to the event. In recent years David has undergone joint replacement surgery making him unable to continue on the front line.

Since then he’s been a part of the Contingency Planning and Resilience Team at SECAmb and was the duty Tactical Advisor for the Beachy Head Gas Cloud incident in 2017.

He also completed 12 years with Sussex Police Special Constabulary.

On this, David said, “I was lucky to work with the police traffic crews, it was great working between the green and blue family – I’ll always consider myself a member of that family, we all look after each other.”

This added to his time in the ambulance service and means he’s completed more than 47 years work in the emergency services.

He said, “It’s sad to be going but I’ve got no choice, now is the time to leave.

“I’ve had amazing support from family and friends over the years, without that support you wouldn’t last in the pressure of the job. They do amazing work.”

Following further surgery and other health problems, David has now had to leave the ambulance service but will be taking up a new position working as a GP paramedic to continue giving service to the public and utilizing his many years of experience.

David said the role will being routine home visits, taking away ‘the pressure of emergency calls’ that he’s been dealing with in previous years.

He said, “I’m sad to have left but I’ve really enjoyed my time with the emergency services.”