Ambulance Victoria volunteers play a vital role in rural communities and no one knows this better than Cooriemungle dairy farmer Leigh Doak.
Port Campbell Community Emergency Response (CERT) members were the first to arrive after Leigh lost control of his quad bike, late at night, on the way back from his farm, in late January this year.
Left to Right: Julie Vogels (CERT), Leigh Doak, Bradley Hain (CERT), Rhys Kensit (ACO)
Living in quite a remote and isolated area in Victoria’s south west, Leigh was lucky that a passerby who was returning from seeing his first baby born, flagged down another car for help and called Triple Zero before quickly helping the injured man.
The Port Campbell CERT had already attended three cases that day when they got the call to attend another. For CERT member Julie Vogels, this was a personal case.
‘I had a bad feeling when I got the message that it was my neighbour. When I arrived at the scene I saw it was in fact Leigh,’ Julie said.
‘Leigh was unconscious and had an obvious head injury. I checked his vital signs and assessed his injuries.’
Timboon Team manager Chris Stewart who oversees the Port Campbell CERT, said this illustrated just how important volunteers were to the community.
‘The crew had managed a combative head injured patient, who was well known to one of them, by holding his airway open, maintaining warmth and keeping him out of the rain,’ Chris said.
Leigh was flown to Melbourne and is now back at home recovering in Cooriemungle.
Leigh was reunited with Julie and fellow CERT member Bradley Hain ahead of National Volunteer’s Week, which runs from May 9 to 15.
Acting CEO Tony Walker said National Volunteer Week provided an opportunity to highlight and recognise their significant contribution.
‘We wouldn’t be able to deliver our services to patients to the high standards that we do without the considerable and continued support of our volunteers,’ Mr Walker said.
‘All Victorians should be proud of the emergency medical response and frontline support of paramedics in rural communities provided by about 900 Community First Responders and Ambulance Community Officers (ACO).
‘Community Emergency Response Teams co-respond with the nearest ambulance in a number of less populated and more remote areas of the state and provide immediate care until the ambulance arrives.’
Julie has been a Port Campbell CERT member for three years. She had always wanted to be a nurse but married a dairy farmer and had five children instead.
Julie said being involved in the CERT allowed her to support the community and her local paramedics, as well as explore her interest in medical care.
‘I’ve loved the role so much that I’m now studying to be an ACO. I learn something from every job,’ Julie said
Timboon resident Bradley was the second CERT member attending the case on the night.
The truck driver and father of three said joining CERT was a natural progression after spending ten years with the CFA.
‘You learn a lot of first aid in the CFA and I thought CERT would be a great opportunity to expand that knowledge,’ Bradley said.
‘I love it. I enjoy the people I work with, the support and knowing that everyone wants to achieve the same thing.’