Speakers Profile - Paul Featherstone


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"Legendary" Ambulance Paramedic - renowned for his work in the rescue of Stuart Diver in the Mt Thredbo disaster, the Granville Train Disaster and most recently the Beaconsfield Mine Rescue.

Paul Featherstone was the paramedic who psychologically held Diver's hand for 12 hours until he was freed from his concrete tomb after the disastrous Thredbo landslide in 1997. During the three-day ordeal the rescuers had little rest or sleep and Paul was seen as going beyond what anyone could expect in giving the sole survivor the best possible care and support during the extrication. The danger was real and imminent. If the concrete slabs had slipped to any significant degree, both men would certainly have perished.

Yet even when the site had to be evacuated each time the rubble shifted, Paul would stay below ground to keep Stuart talking and distract him from the predicament. He did this in spite of the risk for himself as it helped the man stay calm and avoided making his condition worse.

Featherstone says he will never forget the grand-final-like roar that rolled down the mountain when the word spread that Diver had been pulled out alive. The crowd of locals that had spent the day mourning the loss of 18 friends, colleagues and loved ones including Diver's wife, Sally could now celebrate the sparing of at least one life.

Paul Featherstone is really a unique individual. He has spent the last 30 years perfecting skills in the recovery and care of people in life threatening situations.

Joining the NSW Ambulance Service in 1972, Paul pioneered the Ambulance Service's acclaimed Paramedic system in 1976. He conceived and developed the Special Casualty Access Team (S.C.A.T.) in 1986, and has since been a team leader in developing patient access methods and high levels of care under hostile environments.

Paul's experience positions him as a specialist in situations where lives may be at stake. Situations where perfect planning, quick assessment and responses are critical for the prevention of injury. In situations where injuries have occurred, Paul is skilled and equipped to access, treat, recover and transport injured individuals whether by foot, road, air or sea.

Paul has developed unique training methods in high-risk areas based on “real world” experience, with emphasis on self-motivation and teamwork. Paul's specific skills and experience are from heart attacks in domestic environments to severe multiple victim industrial accidents; and he has been at the forefront of literally thousands of emergency situations.

Twice the recipient of the Ambulance Service's highest award for bravery, the Distinguished Service Medal as well as the Australian Bravery Medal, the Humane Society's bronze, silver and gold medals and the Prince Phillip Helicopter Rescue Award, Paul Featherstone is a man who can be depended on.

In addition to Paul's outstanding career with the NSW Ambulance Service, in recent years he has been in demand to provide specialised services to individuals and corporations. Paul has been personally selected by some of Australia's most high profile individuals and corporations to provide V.I.P. Clinical Management, V.I.P. Body guard and Clinical Support, Major Sporting Functions Clinical Management, Safety Officer for Major Events, Team Building and Leadership courses, and Adventure Training and Survival Courses including Medical Support Team for National ECHO Challenge.

Paul has been a keynote speaker for organisations including:
Toyota, Sony, Department of Health, R.S.L, various NRL Clubs, Incremental Incentives, Rotary and many more…

In addition to regular Paramedic duties, Paul has played a role in aiding multiple victims from the following major emergencies.

• Savoy Hotel Fire 1975.
• Granville Rail Crash 1977.
• Lewisham Hospital Fire 1980.
• Royal National Park Bush Fires 1986.
• Nyngan Flood 1990.
• Forbes Flood 1990.
• Thredbo Disaster 1997.
• Wingella Fires 1998.
• Special Response Operations for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, (Aquatic, Helicopter, C.B.R. Crowds, V.I.P. & Terrorist).
• Black Xmas Fires, remote teams, 2002.
• Bali Bombing 2002.
• December fires 2002

Paul is an expert in his field, a leading instructor and exponent. Paul conceived and implemented Special Casualty Access Team's (SCAT). He is an associate lecturer at Charles Sturt University. He continually updates his knowledge and expertise, including from outside the Ambulance Service.

A sample of Paul's qualifications include:

• FAUI Certificated Scuba Diver in Open Water, Rescue, Black Water and Advanced
• Ni Dan Black Belt Master Ju Jitsu
• Ambulance Paramedic
• SCAT Instructor Special Casualty Access Team Instructor.
• SLSA Helicopter Rescue Certificate for Crewman, Instructor, Diver, Examiner.
• Hostage Survival Course
• Mines Rescue Certificate .
• NSW Fire Brigade Breathing Apparatus
• C.A.A. Dangerous Goods Certificate.
• Certified USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) operator
• Professional Association of Climbing Instructors, Assessor level.
• Anti Terrorist Training; C.B.R. and V.I.P. Protection
• Airborne Rappelling.
• Canyoning Techniques.
• Four Wheel Drive.
• Licence Requirements for Special Access Vehicles.
• Mines Rescue Medical Crew
• Speleology Skills.
• Violent Situations & Tactical Support Training.

- Granville
- Thredbo
- Aquatic Rescues
- Fires
- Millie

- How everyone makes a difference
- The importance of team work
- Planning
- Spirit and Courage


I believe he is the most operational paramedic in the world. He brings to what he does a state of readiness and qualities that are almost Samurai qualities. He has a very strong code of honour. In a sense he is a warrior - a medical warrior, or a patient's warrior. So many people owe him their lives for what he has done in terms of accessing patients safely. It is taken for granted in NSW now that people will have an ambulance paramedic arrive on their `doorstep' and deliver world class treatment - even if that doorstep is a tiny ledge on a cliff, or a sea cave or jammed on a steep slope after your hang glider has crashed. Feathers has done it always with a concern for the safety and well being of his fellow officers.

Paul Newland, helicopter pilot, crewman and Paul's soul-brother on countless missions..

Feathers is that rare person who possesses the attributes to which we should all aspire if we wish to transcend the popular understanding of a manager and aspire to be a leader - integrity, honesty, humility, confidence, competence, modesty and a passionate commitment to improve.

It is people like Feathers who Australians think of when they talk of the ANZAC spirit, the person who gets the ultimate accolade of being a really good bloke and the person who you are proud to call a mate. Our attitude to business and life in general continues to be enriched by our contact with Paul.
A Senior Executive of the Australian automotive industry.

Staying with Stuart Diver during periods of high danger to yourself was an act of the highest humanity and courage and we salute you for it. We realise that such achievements reflect a team effort, but such teams must be led, in spirit and strength and this is what you provided, to say nothing of the expertise and professionalism that you brought to bear.

Professor Stephen Leeder, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney - on behalf of the Faculty, post-Thredbo 1997.

As an old friend, I think you handled yourself with great dignity and class. Obviously what you and your team went through down there was horrific, but to have the success that you had, really created a great support that would not have existed for a lot of deeply depressed and disturbed people. I saw somewhere that you and Stuart Diver would probably have a `special' relationship for the rest of your lives. Don't forget that in our family we feel the same about you too'.
James Packer - in the wake of Thredbo, 1997.