CHP gives emotional farewell to flight officer and paramedic retiring after 32 years of service

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- On Wednesday night, a local hero signed off for the last time.

After 32 years, CHP flight officer and paramedic Andrea Brown is retiring.

This is a woman who loved her job so much she actually delayed her retirement.

Brown says she grew up wanting to be a doctor but a chance encounter with the CHP introduced her to an entirely new way to save lives.

"It's been an amazing ride, I hope I've left the impression on you that you've left on me," she said during the final sign-off. "I could've never dreamed to have had such a rewarding career."

It was a career that came by chance when she was working with EMS gearing up for medical school.

"If there was a bad crash or stabbing in the rural area, a helicopter would come out, land and take one of us ground medics to transport the patients," Brown said.

The thrill of the ride led to a change in career paths and countless lives saved after graduating from the academy.

Brown may have learned her skills in the academy but the empathy and compassion she has for patients is what makes a lasting impact

During a 2015 rescue on the Kaweah River, for example, she can be heard reassuring a stranded hiker near Marble Falls, who fell 24 hours before the rescue.

"To be able to walk away at the end of the day, or end of a career, and know that there are people out there that may not have been, had you not been there that day, that's pretty rewarding," Brown said.

She started her career on patrol in Bakersfield. She moved to air operations in 1994 where she'd get an entirely different view of the place she calls home.

Her final night flight with her partner overlooked the iconic Christmas Tree Lane and Cindy Avenue.

While she looks forward to traveling and spending more time with her husband and three children, Brown said leaving her work family is the hardest part of retiring.

"They're my family... knuckleheads, but they're my family," she said.

On Thursday, Officer Brown turns in her gear for her final shift.
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