RETIRED NSW police chief inspector Gary Raymond is a veteran of the Granville train disaster, the Hilton Hotel bombing and Boxing Day tsunami.
He has whispered a prayer into the ear of a car crash victim hanging upside down and close to death.
And in his 34 years, the devout Christian has struggled to come to grips with the terrible suffering humans can inflict upon one another.
During a Christian group breakfast in Howlong on Saturday morning, the chaplain said people often said to him “you must see some terrible things”.
“But people never say to you that you must smell some terrible smells or hear some terrible sounds,” he said.
The topic of how to deal with the horror police officers are faced with on a regular basis is more relevant than ever, as heavy psychological demands see far too many police officers burdened with mental illness.
Mr Raymond believes there needs to be more done to prepare officers for the full “sensory experience” of policing and also help to manage the challenges of their home lives.
He said his background as an ambulance officer helped him approach disturbing crime and accident scenes in a clinical way.
However, he said there were cases that had made him stop and think more than others, including the abduction, rape and murder of nurse Anita Cobby by five men in Blacktown in 1986.
“She had defence wounds on her fingers so she had got hold of the knife as they were cutting her throat,” he said.
“That one, I was struggling to come to grips with what humans could do to other humans.
“I couldn’t sleep that night.”
The Australian Police Medal recipient thinks the public can also help boost the morale of police officers by showing their gratitude more often.
In what is likely to be a popular suggestion with the men and women in blue, he suggested taking a cake around to the police station to say “we appreciate what you do”.
During his decorated career, the former chief inspector got plenty of memorable thank-yous after saving hundreds of lives.
On January 18, 1977 he was crawling through the wreckage of the Granville train disaster when he came upon the crushed body of 19-year-old Debbie Skow.
She had been bypassed by paramedics who thought she was dead but the police rescuer felt a warm limb and a pulse.
“One of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard in my police career was Debbie starting to breathe,” he said.
These days the Order of Australia recipient works as a chaplain with the Police Post Trauma Support Group and preaches about his Christian faith when reliving his time in the force.
He said he never found the need to draw the line between religion and being a police officer.
He prayed with the family of a man who was burned to death in his home.
After the formal police interviews were over, he had counselled those accused of murder.
Mr Raymond, who had a gun pointed at his chest by a madame of a brothel, said those who “haven’t accepted Christ” are in danger of spending eternity in hell.
“Everyone needs God whether they know it or not,” he said.