Driving through Chiltern in the northeast of Victoria, the main street is lined with historic buildings. It has all of the staples of a good country town – a beautiful old pub, a busy bakery and a population of about 1000 people.
It’s quiet and it’s remote. There hasn’t been a GP practice for about five years now, and the only hospital closed a decade ago. But this town is full of people who look out for each other and it’s been my home for nearly 40 years.
Chiltern is where my husband Barry and I raised our two kids, Kelli and Brad, and it’s where we became grandparents for the first time. It’s also where I found my love for volunteering and I have just completed a six year term as State Commissioner for Girl Guides Victoria.
And it’s where, 14 years ago, I began volunteering as a member of the newly formed Community Emergency Response Team and then later become an Ambulance Community Officer.
Today, right at the heart of Chiltern and in a small building, I lead a team of 17 local First Responders from all walks of life. For us, the work we do is personal.
We’re the first on scene to our neighbours’ toughest moments and we’re there after those moments pass. My team recently visited an elderly patient who’d passed away at home. His family were distraught. The team stayed behind long after the ambulance left, calling family members, finding somewhere for the dog to stay, looking after each other. These are the moments that matter and this is how we can help our community.
Each day brings us something different. Most of the time we know the people we go to, and to be there as they birth babies, break a leg or face their toughest moments is a privilege we take seriously.
I’ll never forget responding to a case involving an elderly man in town. My own Dad had just died and the importance of caring for vulnerable people had never felt clearer.
As First Responders, it is moments like this that drive us to finish our day jobs and clock on overnight for another volunteer shift.
It’s been great to share the story of Chiltern this week, a small town where 17 people can make a big difference.
Lynne Emblin Team Leader, Chiltern Ambulance Community Officer Branch
Ambulance Community Officer Lynne Emblin (right) with Paramedic Norieul Kinross