Graham Nickisson doesn't shy away from talking about the toll his work took on him - 38 years as an aircrew officer with the Westpac Rescue Helicopter will do that.
After stepping out of the helicopter for the last time in 2018, he has been on a journey to "get my head sorted out" after the incredibly difficult situations he has had to see and help save people from.
But his steadfast commitment to the lifesaving organisation hasn't wavered. He now works in the marketing team where he spreads the word about the work they do with a great deal of authority.
On Saturday, Mr Nickisson will mark 40 years with the service, an achievement he describes as "surreal".
"The first thing it makes me think of is my bloody age," he said. "It makes me wonder where the time's gone."
But Mr Nickisson, better known as "Nicko", is quick to describe himself as a "link in a much bigger chain".
"We're just the transport, I've never put a Bandaid on anyone in my life," he said.
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"I have a lot of passion for the volunteers who give their time to raise money, the aircraft engineers. Over my career it's never ceased to amaze me what amazing work the critical care paramedic and critical care doctor do to save lives.
"Everyone works hand in hand - the hospital workers, the police and ambulance on scene, the emergency service call takers and volunteer rescue organisations. It's one big link and if any of those links are broken it doesn't work."
Nicko describes finishing as aircrew officer as "a huge weight off my shoulders". He suffered unknowingly for decades from responding to the 1989 Kempsey bus collision, Australia's worst road crash which killed 35 people and injured 41.
"I don't shy away from the fact that I've got some issues," he said. "I've been doing PTSD courses and getting my head sorted out.
"When you do it for 38 years you're not going to fix that stuff overnight.
"The company supported me when I put my hand up and said I'm struggling. My family have also ridden this rollercoaster with me, they've seen the highs and lows."
Those have included being crew chief for 26 years, being involved in the crew rescue of the Pasha Bulker, the Newcastle earthquake, walking a patient down the aisle 26 years after a rescue and transporting a dying mother to her son's graduation from the Police Academy.
After retiring from flying, he moved into a community liaison role, before taking up his current job as media and emergency services liaison.
"I had my lightbulb moment" he said. "I reached out to the HR department and said I just don't know how long I can keep doing this.
"I came home after a nasty job and said to my wife I'm done.
"HR spoke to our marketing team and said what better person to be talking to the community than someone who's done it for so long. They've kept me on board and looked after me."
He believes his former role has helped his current job.
"I'm lucky, it's fairly unique to be able to see from both sides," he said.
"It allows me to see what wonderful people we've got out there supporting the service and talk to different community organisations who raise money.
"I can tell donors their money is going to good use to keep the service in the air."
Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service CEO Richard Jones said Nicko was a huge asset for the company.
"Nicko's loved by everyone in the Service and arguably, in the community as well," he said. "His career is exemplary. We believe he is the longest serving aircrew officer on any civilian aeromedical helicopter in Australia but he is much more than that.
"He has embraced his role with dedication, commitment, compassion and an empathy that touches all who have the privilege of working with him."
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