From using wooden splints to transfer patients to the introduction of two-way radios, the Childers Ambulance Station service has experienced plenty of change in its 100 year history.
Local paramedics and officers past and present will celebrate the station's centenary in December and former officer Ben Clutterbuck is one of many who look back on his career in Childers fondly.
He started as an honorary officer in 1952 before becoming superintendent in 1972, then eventually retiring in 1993.
“I had a pretty good life with the ambulance,” Ben said.
“Just being able to serve the community was a great privilege and I had very happy years in the service.”
While recounting the highlights of his career, Ben said things were now very different to what he had experienced back in the 50s and onwards.
“Nowadays there has been a fantastic change,” he said.
“The equipment paramedics have is absolutely mind blowing to an old fella like me.
“We only ever dreamed of having this sort of equipment!”
Ben said when he was a paramedic in Childers, wooden splints were often used to carry patients, even if they weren't the most reliable.
“They were rather uncomfortable and not good to use!” he said.
“We had one bottle of oxygen and a mask, which is laughable in these days.
“We also had to supply our own tools like scissors and forceps – they were all our own property.”
Ben said the technology used within the service had also drastically changed, making communication faster and easier than it was in his time.
“We didn't have two-way radio until the mid 50s and communication – you may as well say was non-existent,” he said.
“If you were in town, the girls on the exchange could track you down by ringing around to see if anyone had noticed you in the shops or about.
“With the invention of two-way radio it gave us communication from the cars to the various centres.”
Ben said he was incredibly proud to have played a part in the Childers Ambulance Station's 100 year history through his role of caring for the community.
“From sudden sickness, severe pain, heart attacks …the service is always there for people if they want it,” he said.
“I have had to use it myself a few times so while I know exactly what is what, I am also able to share in the appreciation felt for service providers.”
Ben said while he had enjoyed his career in the QAS (formerly the QATB), he was no stranger to the harsh reality of the job.
“In my first 12 months I attended so many fatal road accidents that the police gave me a nickname of Dr Death,” he said.
“It was a strange title, but when I look back over the years I can see their point.
“Some of the accidents were absolutely horrendous but when I came back into my home, that was it – I didn't bring it with me.
“That is a very important thing for officers to remember, don't bring your work home with you.”
But with death, there is also life in Ben's former line of work, with the local also having lent his skillset to help in the delivery of babies.
“The first baby I had to deliver was a patient from the Bingera Sugar Mill,” he said.
“I had to do the delivery coming over the Burnett Traffic Bridge, it held the traffic up a bit!”
Jody one year on the job and loving her role
And while Ben had clocked up more than 40 years in his career at Childers Ambulance Station, current paramedic Jody Nerney is just getting started.
“I am relatively new to the service, I have been serving in Childers since the start of my career one year ago,” she said.
“It makes me feel quite proud to be involved and I think it is amazing that we have served the Childers community for 100 years.”
Jody said she had already seen some huge changes at the station in her 12 months on the job.
“We now have two power stretchers in our ambulances, they all used to be manual, so these make our job so much easier,” she said.
“We also have new radio communications such as push-to-talk and satellite which makes a huge difference when we are out in the middle of nowhere.
“Also, the station has just introduced a brand new car that includes a rumbler.
“You hit the horn a few times and it sends vibrations into the cars ahead of you, so not only are you relying on the siren to move people out of the way you also have the vibrations.”
Jody said her work at the station was varied and could see her assisting someone in the middle of town or out in a paddock on any given day.
“Childers is surprisingly big and we service so many different farming communities,” she said.
“We cover not only the highway crashes but people experiencing some pretty major illnesses and we can be anywhere from Childers, Woodgate, Biggenden and more.”
Jody said no matter what she was doing, she loved every minute of her career as a paramedic.
“It is the best job in the world,” she said.
“I get to see people in their day to day lives – I get to help them in what may be the best or the worst day of their life.
“It's an unreal view of humanity.”
Good to see Ben is still around.
I was an honorary bearer at childers… when under Roy Smith it introduced two way radio. Scotty Hillouse was also with Roy as his assistant Selling raffl tickets to pay for the radios Ben is also a great organist at his local church
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