Volunteers: Unsung heroes

VOLUNTEER-DRIVEN: Volunteers like Ian Clarke, pictured, of Booleroo Centre, are a vital part of emergency response to vehicle crashes in the Mid North.

VOLUNTEER-DRIVEN: Volunteers like Ian Clarke, pictured, of Booleroo Centre, are a vital part of emergency response to vehicle crashes in the Mid North.

Volunteers. Where would our communities be without them? 

And when someone’s life hangs in the balance after a crash, it’s these unsung heroes – our ambulance, fire and SES volunteers – doing their best to save a life.

That is the state of affairs with emergency services across the Mid North. Our small country towns’ stations are staffed with locals wanting to make a difference in their communities.

Ambulance officer, Ian Clarke, of Booleroo Centre, is one of just many dedicated emergency service volunteers who has seen his fair share of serious and fatal crashes. 

The local connection these volunteers have with their communities, like Mr Clarke’s with Booleroo Centre, makes their role even harder in the event of a crash.

“Because we know everybody, it’s a far more personal thing for us ambos,” he said.

“It comes a lot closer to all of us.”

That closeness with the community also means they need to ‘switch off’ when heading to a crash site so they can keep a calm head. 

Once volunteer ambulance officers have been to a site, Mr Clarke says they have access to peer support – a support process to help them deal with the trauma they might’ve have witnessed.

“Some of us need it; some don’t. Quite often we don’t need it at the time, but a week or so later and we might need to have a chat with someone,” he said.

“After a big incident … we won’t usually sleep that night.

“You think about going to sleep, but you don’t.  You just relive it and keep reliving it.”

Mr Clarke said these sleepless nights could sometimes last for days but praised the South Australian Ambulance Service for the support provided to volunteers. 

He said the volunteers had an enormous responsibility in their communities but explained there were rewards for the efforts.

“We have a massive responsibility, that’s why we have to be well-trained,” he said.

“Over many years, not just with accidents, people will sometimes come up to me years after helping them and tell me that I made a difference.

“That’s a huge feeling of reward.” Speaking of the connection between emergency services, he said ambulance, fire and SES gets paged from 000.

“We work together really well,” he said. “Time is always critical in any incident.”

With harvest happening across the region, Mr Clarke urged people to be patient as there would be more trucks and machinery on roads. 

Mr Clarke also asked people to be patient when calling 000, saying that it might seem to take a while as an operator asks questions, but things are put into action straight away.

This story Volunteers: Unsung heroes first appeared on The Flinders News.