BUNDABERG paramedic Rony Sapir has learnt that in the blink of an eye everything can change, after a fellow North Queensland paramedic was rendered a quadriplegic during a horrific accident on the job.
Torres Strait-based paramedic Jamie Jackway, a married father-of-three and champion sportsman, broke his spine when a winch line snapped during a rescue off Horn Island in 2009.
On Saturday March 3, Mr Sapir swapped pushing a stretcher for a push bike, and embarked on a 1300km charity bike ride from Brisbane to Townsville in aid of the recently established Australian National Paramedic Support Foundation.
"It looks after sick, injured or unwell people who work as paramedics - a legacy program," Mr Sapir said.
"Jamie will be our figure head."
Mr Sapir, who is the Queensland Ambulance Service Wide Bay area director, is riding with four other paramedics, and whose team also includes a sea paddler.
"He's paddling the whole distance we do in kilometres, but on the water," he said.
Mr Sapir said the decision to get involved had been a personal one for both him and his wife, who is also a paramedic.
"We worked in the Torres Straits doing what Jamie was doing," he said
"He had dedicated his life and career to the ambulance service. He has a young family, like myself."
Mr Sapir hopes the charity ride will raise $250,000 which will go towards the building of a new home for Mr Jackway to suit his needs and lifestyle as a paraplegic, which is expected to cost $900,000.
"We're on track so far," he said.
"Our aim is to get him into the house debt-free."
The cycling team had a quick stop-over in Bundaberg on Thursday, and will reach Rockhampton today.
The group plans to stop in each town to raise money for the foundation.
To donate to the foundation, visit www.anpsf.org.au or visit the ambulance station on Bourbong St.