Tasmania’s oldest volunteer ambulance officer John Edelsten retires

SERVICE: John Edelsten, 80, of Legana, has retired as Tasmania's oldest volunteer ambulance officer after five years on the job. He is now calling on more people to take up a volunteer position. Picture: Scott Gelston
SERVICE: John Edelsten, 80, of Legana, has retired as Tasmania's oldest volunteer ambulance officer after five years on the job. He is now calling on more people to take up a volunteer position. Picture: Scott Gelston

As a volunteer ambulance officer, John Edelsten is older than the majority of his patients. 

After five years on the job, the 80-year-old has officially retired as Tasmania’s oldest volunteer ambulance officer. 

Based at Beaconsfield, Mr Edelsten said the role had brought him an incredible sense of purpose, but it wasn’t something he went looking for. 

“I stumbled upon it, quite literally one day,” he said. 

“I was walking with my wife and we came across a recruitment ambulance. 

“I was a bit nosy and stuck my head in, but I just thought I would be too old. 

“I remember the young lady saying – well if you are older than 18 you can drive an ambulance.

“So I laughed and agreed to do so.”

Mr Edelsten moved to Tasmania with his wife Meg about 15 years ago, after a long career as a chartered accountant in the UK. 

At the time, Mrs Edelsten was recovering from treatment for lung cancer. 

Mr Edelsten said her “miraculous” recovery inspired him to give back to the community.

Ambulance Tasmania regional manager Lynden Ferguson with volunteer ambulance officer John Edelsten. Picture: Scott Gelston

Ambulance Tasmania regional manager Lynden Ferguson with volunteer ambulance officer John Edelsten. Picture: Scott Gelston

“She was only given a two year sentence, but she beat it against all the odd,” he said. 

“I definitely developed a new appreciation for health professionals. 

“I wanted to give back in a healthy way.

“Early on I realised that I was very fortunate to be so healthy and that many patients were younger than I. 

“These experiences contributed directly to my desire to help the community for as long as I could.” 

Ambulance Tasmania regional manager Lynden Ferguson said Mr Edelsten has been an outstanding volunteer and team member. 

“My experience is that he has been an extremely polite and considerate gentleman,” he said. 

“As our volunteer ambulance officers backgrounds and ages are very diverse, we appreciate having the life experience and insights of our older volunteers.   

“In that vein, we really would welcome retirees that are looking for a new challenge.”

Mr Edelsten said he hoped to serve as an example for “older” people considering taking up a volunteer position. 

“I think 80 is a respectable age to hang up the cap, so to speak,” he said.

“I now appeal to the more elder section of our community, the 50s and 60s, to contact the Launceston ambulance head office and become a volunteer. You won’t regret it.”