San Diego’s longest-serving paramedic called it a career Wednesday after more than four decades as a first-responder.
“You know, I truly loved coming to work being a paramedic,” said Craig Balderson while sitting inside a Falck ambulance. "That’s all I wanted to do."
After a tour of duty in Vietnam and some time at Southwestern College, Balderson became a paramedic in 1979. Forty-three years after his first call, Balderson had his last, at the age of 76. He estimates he’s cared for more than 50,000 people during his career.
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“That’s what they’re looking for,” Balderson said with a smile. “They’re looking for someone to help them at that moment.”
The grandfather of four is also a treasure trove of stories that could be the plot for any prime-time drama.
There was the time he treated a burglar who was attacked by the homeowner’s bull python and any of the 37 babies he helped to deliver.
“I like the thought of being able to help people,” Balderson said. “Four decades have come and gone…. Been through the full circle from birth and death to everything in between. So, I’m grateful for the opportunity to do the job.”
Balderson admitted he had no idea what he’s doing in retirement. He said he’ll greatly miss the comradery with fellow first-responders and caring for people when they needed it the most.