Long-serving ambos mentors youths

AMBO PRIDE: Emu Park’s Ashley Wessels shows grandson William Wessels his long service medal.
AMBO PRIDE: Emu Park’s Ashley Wessels shows grandson William Wessels his long service medal. Sharyn Oneill

ASHLEY Wessels trained as a fitter, but he soon realised he’d rather fix people than machines, so he became an ambulanceman.

Yesterday, proudly carrying his grandson, William, the officer in charge at Emu Park Ambulance Station, was showing off a long service clasp to mark his 25-years as a professional lifesaver.

“It’s a great job,” he said. “It’s a good feeling knowing that you can help the sick and injured and make a contribution to your community.

“And it’s getting better because the training and drugs regimes we have in place means we can be of more benefit.”

Ashley was one of 18 members of the Queensland Ambulance Service in the Central Region to be awarded at a ceremony in Rockhampton yesterday.

They included his Emu Park colleague, paramedic Gordon Smith, who has clocked up 30 years with the service.

“There’s only two of us at the station and Emu Park is growing very quickly, so there’s always plenty to do,” he said.

Commissioner David Melville was up from Brisbane to make the presentations at Kershaw House.

He said Rockhampton advanced care paramedic Gavin Cousens was the first in the region to win a Meritorious Service Award for his selfless bravery during the bushfire threat to the city on October 17 last year.

Mr Melville said after rescuing an incapacitated woman from advancing flames, the paramedic had continued to assist with evacuating other residents and onlookers, despite sustaining burns to his face.

“These actions represent the true courage and determination of an emergency services worker: the willingness to go to extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of others,” he said.

The 14 long-service awards he presented, for periods ranging from 10 years to 35 years, represented more than 200 years of service.

“These personnel are mentors to the generations of paramedics set to follow in their footsteps and they should be extremely proud of their achievements,” he said.

National Medal and Clasp recipients: Michelle Baxter, area director; Neil McKane, advanced care paramedic, North Rockhampton; Laurie Ryan, officer in charge, Duaringa; Craig Simmonds, paramedic, Moura; Ashley Wessels, officer in charge, Emu Park, 25 years; Edward Moynihan, officer in charge, Mount Larcom, 35 years.

Long Service Medals and Clasps: Stephen DeKeijzer, officer in charge, Capella, 10 years; Laurie Ryan, officer in charge, Duaringa, 10 years; Carlin Woods, emergency driver, Finch Hatton, 10 years; Michael Gaskin, officer in charge, Clermont, 20 years; Athol Rankin, communications manager, 20 years; Francis Smith, officer in charge, Blackall, 20 years; Gordon Smith, paramedic, Emu Park, 30 years; Barbara Marsom, Gemfields, 20 years.

Academic Awards: Mikaela McLellan; Leighton Smith, Talita Minnie, certificate of practice communications.

Meritorious Service Award: Gavin Cousins, Rockhampton.

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