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  • Heartbreak as slain Sydney paramedic farewelled

    Author: AAP

A respected Sydney paramedic killed in the line of duty has been honoured with a National Medal of Service during a memorial service focused on celebrating the young father's life.

Newlywed Steven Tougher, a 29-year-old who was expecting his second child with wife Madison, was stabbed during his meal break while outside a McDonald's in southwestern Sydney last month.

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Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan led tributes at the service on Monday, describing him as a "young man of limitless potential, taken too soon".

"Every single one of his colleagues has spoken so positively about his larger than life personality, his sense of humour, but also a strong sense of natural justice," Dr Morgan said.

He thanked responding paramedics and doctors who went "above and beyond to do everything in their power to save Steve's life".

"Few will know the lengths that you went to," he said.

Mr Tougher's family was handed a National Medal of Service by Governor-General David Hurley in recognition of the duties he would have completed had he not been killed.

The private service at the University of Wollongong was attended by Premier Chris Minns, Health Minister Ryan Park, and NSW Ambulance colleagues as well as friends and relatives.

Draped with the NSW Ambulance Service flag, his casket was carried into the service by family to the tune of REM's Everybody Hurts.

"Whether we knew him or not, he represents the best of us," the premier told mourners.

"Selfless, brave and dedicated, not motivated by wealth or by money or status, but by the need to help others.

"It's a rare person that would choose that life as a vocation.

"But as Steven's family told me, it's a life he was determined to live from the very beginning.

"The pain we feel today is partly driven by a deep longing to fill the place of life that Steven will not live."

At the request of his grieving family the service was called "a celebration of the life of Steven" rather than a funeral.

After the service, Mr Tougher's family, friends and dignitaries formed a guard of honour to escort the hearse, as NSW Ambulance and NSW Police helicopters honoured his memory with a flyover.

"Steven had an uncanny ability to connect with people, to truly understand their needs, and to provide care with genuine warmth and empathy," the Tougher family said shortly after his death.

"He was always ready with a smile, a kind word, or a lending hand and brought joy to those around him."

More than $500,000 has been raised to support his wife Madison, who is expecting their second child within weeks.

Tens of thousands of people have also backed a call from Mr Tougher's father Jeff for mandatory sentences on those who kill or assault frontline workers in the line of duty.

The premier has instructed the attorney-general and his department and cabinet to look at potential changes to the law.

Laws penalising those who wound police and other law enforcement officers with up to 14 years in prison were expanded by the Perrottet government in 2022 to include paramedics and other frontline emergency services workers.

Mr Tougher's accused attacker has been charged with murder and faces life in prison if convicted.

He has been in custody since the attack and will face a Sydney court next month.


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