Retired ambulance officer Noel Owen with his certificates and medals for his service and achievements.
Retired ambulance officer Noel Owen with his certificates and medals for his service and achievements. Jocelyn Watts

Noel tells of 25 years as an ambo

NOEL Owen has seen more than his far share of blood and gore over the years.

Car crashes, drug overdoses, stabbings – the Maryborough retiree could “tell you stories all day” about his 25 years in the Victorian Ambulance Service.

“I will never forget my very last day on the job,” he said.

“We got a call – there had been a crash.

“We got out there and there was the biggest pool of blood you’d ever seen. A doctor was already on the scene and lifted up a coat.

“Underneath was the most beautiful little girl. Dead.

“And all I could hear was screaming – it was the girl’s mother.

“Apparently they’d been playing in a park and the little girl jumped off the swing and, for some reason, ran straight out on to the road.

“A girl, about 20, didn’t get a chance to stop and ran right over her.

“All I could think was: ‘Thank God I’m finished.’”

Despite the less-than-memorable experiences that came with his duties as an ambo, Mr Owen has no regrets about dedicating his life to helping others.

For one, he says, his passion led him to the St John Ambulance Service at 14 years old.

This month, at age 76, he is just starting to wind down his involvement with the group – and that’s not by choice.

“The past two years I have spent driving dialysis patients between Maryborough and Hervey Bay for appointments.

“I only just stopped driving. Because of my age and because I am a diabetic I wasn’t able to get a commercial licence.

“It was disappointing because I really enjoyed it.

“It’s been such a fantastic way to meet and help people in the community.

“The clients are really appreciative and we always have a good chat.”

Mr Owen also served as a medical orderly with the Royal Australian Air Force in the Korean War.

He was the president of the Local Ambulance Committee in Calliope after retiring from the ambulance service.

“Things have changed so much since I was in the service. We used to get the idiots following us out to a job.

“And the cars were a lot worse. They weren’t built strong.”

Since moving to Maryborough in 1989 Mr Owen has become somewhat of a pioneer for St John Ambulance’s Transport Access Project.

The project requires gathering volunteers to drive disadvantaged residents – including the frail, the disabled and their carers – to doctors, specialists, hospital and social trips.

In his spare time he enjoys gardening and watching war movies.

“I get sick of staying at home so I like to get out and do things,” he said.

 

About St John

St John Ambulance Australia is a charitable organisation active in all states and territories, dedicated to helping people in sickness, distress, suffering or danger.

St John is Australia’s leading provider of first aid training, first aid services at public events and supplier of first aid kits and equipment. For more information visit www.stjohn.org.au.



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