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Yarram ambulance branch celebrates 100 years

September 11, 2023 | in Community News

Ambulance Victoria’s (AV) Yarram branch has celebrated the event of the century.

The Gippsland branch’s 100 years of service milestone was marked recently with a Community Celebration Day held at the Yarram Recreation Reserve.

Yarram residents were thanked for their support of the branch and treated to ‘Call, Push, Shock’ demonstrations to learn life-saving CPR, while old ambulances including a 1920s Dodge and paramedic uniforms from yesteryear were on display.

The vintage ambulance was showcased as a nod to the branch’s past, with the Dodge originally stationed at Yarram and one of the first motorised ambulances to operate in the state.

Early ambulances at Yarram.

The first patients in the area to receive care out of Yarram’s branch were treated on 14 July 1923 when it opened its doors. The current branch on Commercial Road opened in 1966, with an extension and upgrade in 1990.

Change is on the horizon once more, with the State Government earlier this year announcing a parcel of land at the rear of Grant Street which has been identified as the preferred site for the new, multi-million-dollar Yarram branch.

Construction is expected to start in the coming months.

Yarram branch in the 1930s.

Ambulance Victoria Yarram Team Manager Gus Taylor has been based at Yarram for the past 12 years and said the branch had “changed massively” during his time.

“When I first arrived in Yarram, there was one paramedic rostered to the ambulance at any one time, so we were heavily reliant on being partnered up with other ambulances or needing to wait on scene for another crew to arrive and help with transport,” he said.

Support for the single paramedics came about a decade ago, with the introduction of Ambulance Community Officers (ACOs) who respond alongside paramedics.

ACOs are first responders employed on a casual basis to provide advanced first aid in remote communities where the caseload is low and the branch is not staffed full-time. ACOs have life-saving skills that they develop and maintain every year.

“There was a stage where there were no paramedics living locally at all, so we started with ACOs and through that process, we have now fostered the development of four local paramedics and two nurses who all started at Yarram branch,” Mr Taylor said.

“Over this time with ACOs supporting single paramedics, we had 95 per cent shift coverage which for a community of our size is a marvellous achievement. It is a testament to the quality of our ACOs.

“We’re very proud of the service we offer the community and the fact we’ve been able to maintain it at such a high standard.”

AV Yarram Team Manager Gus Taylor with paramedics Tom King and Wyatt Kilgower.

Another major change took place in September 2022, with dual-paramedic crews running out of Yarram for the first time in its history.

Mr Taylor, who has been a paramedic for 28 years, said Yarram branch’s progression was reflective of AV’s innovative culture.

AV Regional Director Ross Salathiel agreed and added that Yarram’s milestone was an impressive feat.

“Yarram branch started from humble beginnings but continues to thrive and develop paramedics who are committed to patient-first, best care outcomes,” he said.

“There are many people who are to thank for the good work that continues to come from the Yarram branch, and we thank the community for their continued support.”