Fifty years of public service: Sunshine Coast local says goodbye to the Qld Ambulance Service

Approaching his 50th anniversary an ambulance officer, Sunshine Coast man Ron Alexander said he felt blessed to have observed a real change in the industry.

Mr Alexander said he decided at 17 years of age on a career as a boilermaker until his employer gave him the opportunity to do a first aid course.

"My first patient came into the first aid room and said 'I'm going to have an epileptic seizure' and I told them to get themselves comfortable," Mr Alexander said.

"One of the signs and symptoms [of a seizure] is a bladder movement, and I was thankful that this patient had done that on this particular day because I had also done it."

This scare gave Mr Alexander the inspiration to deepen his knowledge of first aid.

"I joined what was then called the Queensland Ambulance Auxiliary in December of 1965 and became an honorary ambulance officer in Townsville in February of 1966," he said.

He then enrolled in one of the newly established Queensland Ambulance Transport Board training schools in the early 1970s.

"When I joined the average age of people joining the ambulance service was about 42, and I became a full-time ambulance officer at 21," he said.

"When I was in Brisbane they used to leave nappies out for me."

Fifty years later, Mr Alexander has worked in Townsville, Innisfail, Beenleigh, Woodridge, Maroochydore, Buderim and now Nambour.

He will hang up his uniform on Sunday.

Big changes in the ambulance service

Mr Alexander said the training needed to become an ambulance officer has changed over the years.

Black and white image of a pair of men in dress uniform being presented with medals.Photo: Ron Alexander, second from right, is presented a Queensland Ambulance Service medal in the early 80s. (Supplied: Ron Alexander)

"When we started off we only had station wagons with very limited knowledge and skills because there was no set training, so you learnt just by working with people," he said.

"Sometimes with respiratory difficulties you'd wind a window down and face the patient outwards so that the air would be forced down their lungs, because we didn't have some of the drugs that we could have that could improve their ability to breathe more easily."

Mr Alexander said it had been enjoyable to watch the Queensland Ambulance Service transform.

"It's just amazing what the officers can now do, [compared] to what I could do when I started.

"You see some things you could do without but otherwise it's been an enjoyable ride."

Mr Alexander said one memorable case was attending a birth in Logan.

"We went into the dining room and there was a woman lying on the table with her skirt around her knees," he said.

"The room was full of people and they had sandwiches, cakes, bottles of wine, and sitting, staring straight down the birth canal was a gentleman with a cup of coffee in one hand and a turkey's leg in the other."

Ron said he told them that the party wasn't going to happen and after a little negotiation he managed to get the mother into the vehicle.

"We got 200 metres down the road and I swear to this day that she had it deliberately just to spite me there."

Despite these challenges, Mr Alexander said he felt blessed to have worked to service the public for 50 years.

Source: ABC News

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