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Responders make a life-saving difference

A section of the Woodgate First Responders at their beachside training rooms on Saturday. Pictured (kneeling from left) Sue Schulz, Wendy McLaughlin, Greg McLaughlin, Daphne Brettell and Susie Barr. (Standing) Wendy Gearside, Jacquie Rogerson, Warren Smith (QAS) and Michael Formica (QAS, OIC Childers).
A section of the Woodgate First Responders at their beachside training rooms on Saturday. Pictured (kneeling from left) Sue Schulz, Wendy McLaughlin, Greg McLaughlin, Daphne Brettell and Susie Barr. (Standing) Wendy Gearside, Jacquie Rogerson, Warren Smith (QAS) and Michael Formica (QAS, OIC Childers).

Very few, if any, volunteer groups have the ability to impact lives in the manner those associated with groups like Woodgate First Responders can.

Volunteers with the Woodgate First Responders Group met at their beachside training venue at the weekend to receive “core skills” training delivered by Officer in Charge of the Childers QAS station Michael Formica.

“First Responder groups are incredibly important as a support arm of the Queensland Ambulance Service,” said Michael.

“The Woodgate volunteers provide up to 300 responses annually and it really is such an important initial step in delivering care in an emergency. It covers that lag time involved in a vehicle dispatch from Childers to Woodgate.

“The core skills training involves refresher courses in the use of CPR, defibrillator use, simple airway procedures and the team-work involved in assisting or resuscitating a patient,” said Michael.

“All first responders must attain a level of proficiency before being involved as an active member of the group.”

Woodgate First Responders members Wendy Gearside and Greg McLaughlin are typical of the community members who comprise the group. Wendy has been a member since 2012, while Greg is a newcomer with about 18 months service.

“I really just wanted to be useful in our community and avoid just sitting at home being rather bored,” Wendy said.

“I had no real medical knowledge and was a little intimidated at the prospect of learning the processes and procedures involved in being a first responder.

“The QAS is excellent at delivering training and resourcing our group to ensure we are able to deliver an optimum service with confidence in our own abilities,” Wendy said.

QAS excels at delivering training

Greg, who is a former surf lifesaving instructor, has experienced his share of beachside emergencies and it was somewhat of a natural progression to be involved with Woodgate First Responders.

“The name says it all. When a Triple-0 emergency is reported at Woodgate we, as responders, receive notification at the same time as the QAS,” Greg said.

“We arrive at the scene to assess the patient and provide an appropriate level of care. In most cases we have the patient’s personal details, medications etc and have them prepared for transport.

“Our key role is to protect life and promote care and comfort.

“We are dressed in QAS uniforms and that really is a stress-reliever for so many people when they see the uniform and know that help is at hand.”

Wendy said people needed to realise that First Responders are not QAS officers, but volunteers trained to provide an appropriate level of care until professional help is available.

“While there are mandatory sessions where all first responders are expected to attend to refresh or upskill their training, our group regularly holds its own training sessions to ensure we retain a level of proficiency.

QAS Paramedic and instructor Warren Smith delivers pointers on resuscitation methods to Woodgate First Responders Greg and Wendy McLaughlin.
QAS Paramedic and instructor Warren Smith delivers pointers on resuscitation methods to Woodgate First Responders Greg and Wendy McLaughlin.

“We have a vehicle purchased with community donations and with the assistance of a Community Gaming Fund grant. The vehicle is fully equipped and resourced by QAS. Their level of care and support for our responders has been quite incredible,” Wendy said.

“During this pandemic our training was interrupted to some degree but that is now back on course. We received all the required PPE and training in its use from QAS. They leave nothing to chance as far as the welfare of their volunteers is concerned.”

Wendy and Greg said they would encourage more locals to join their group which is currently about 14 active members.

“Yes, there is some initial online training involved and a need to keep up to date with our training,” Wendy said.

“However, we know we can make a difference in our immediate community. Woodgate has a small population and sometimes the people you are helping are friends or neighbours.”

Michael Formica said the Woodgate First Responders worked to a roster system.

“Two people are rostered for a 24-hour period, 9am until 9am, and during that rostered time they are available for contact and response.”

To learn about the role of QAS first responders visit their website.

For information on the Woodgate First Responders group contact Wendy Gearside on 0419 710 316.

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