I’m a community ambulance officer, known as an ACO. I also teach paramedicine to the ADF at Latchford Barracks. That’s a TAFE contract, and I also do ski patrol at Falls Creek in the winter, and mountain bike patrol in summer. As an ACO I’m part of a supplementary group of local first responders trained by Ambulance Victoria to work alongside the paramedics on call. Is it something you always wanted to do?
I grew up in Wangaratta and did a plumbing apprenticeship in the mid-80s. Through my girlfriend (now my wife) who came from Tawonga I came to the mountains looking for work in 1985. I never skied before and I did my first season at Falls and got the ski bug. During that season I met several people working ski patrol and I thought ‘that’s something I really want to do’. It looked like the best job in the world. I saw the camaraderie and the teamwork that went with the emergency response, and I saw how highly the crew was regarded. To take a sport you love and turn it into a vocation seemed perfect.
How do you come to be in the job?
I trained over several seasons to become a ski patroller. It involved first aid training, skiing skills and use of the alpine rescue equipment. I also worked an exchange at Squaw Valley at Lake Tahoe.
My wife and I lived in the US for six months. That was pretty exciting – we were using explosives to facilitate avalanche control. We don’t do that here – there’s not so much snow and there’s fragile wildlife to consider. Up until 12 years ago I kept on with the plumbing for Falls Creek Resort Management, and then I became ski patrol manager and I spent nine years working closely with paramedics.
It was a great experience. Having worked for FCRM for 30 years I wanted to do something more and the paramedic role beckoned as a challenge academically and practically. I have just completed a three-year course at Flinders Uni and have recently passed a job interview with Ambulance Victoria and I’m waiting for information about my graduate position.
What do you love about the job?
I can use my medical skills to help people in times of need. At those critical times our skill set lets us care for people in specific ways that can save and sustain lives.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’m a lieutenant in the Tawonga CFA but I’ve been too busy to be very involved recently because of my training. I’ve been active teaching community groups how to use a defibrillator. I’m also a keen mountain biker, and I love to fly-fish when I get the chance. I’m looking forward to finishing my study and finding more time to spend with my wife and kids.