Craig heads out for his last patrol
PORT Douglas ambulance officerin-charge Craig Downing will don his ambo’s uniform for the final time today before setting off to help rebuild his home town of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Craig’s yearning for home was awakened by the devastating earthquake that hit the city in February last year and he admits feeling frustrated by his inability to help at the time of the disaster.
“The relief effort was federally funded, which meant only Australian passport holders were eligible to join relief teams,” he said.
“It was hard watching the events unfold and be unable to help.”
Craig’s career highlight so far is qualifying as an intensive care paramedic, and he is also excited to go back to Christchurch with the tropical medicinal knowledge and experience he has picked up in his time in the Port Douglas area.
“My time in Port has given me a wealth of experience, some of that I could never explain to people unfa- miliar with the region,” he said.
“From snake bites to stingers, there is so much diversity in the treatment of patients. From rescue missions on the reef to the rainforest, I have seen so much in my career here.”
Before his departure Craig is keen to acknowledge the support both he and his colleagues receive from the local community.
“People in the Port Douglas and Mossman region really seem to realise the pivotal role the ambulance service provides to the area, especially given how remote we are here at times,” Craig said.
“The community gives and gives back to the ambulance service.
“Last year we received $25,000 from the rotary club to buy a new defibrillator, a life saving tool that has been used to save lives within the community.”
After four years in Port Douglas, Craig concedes he will miss the sunshine beaches and spirit of the local people, but is looking forward to reconnecting with family after a lengthy 12-year hiatus from home.
Leaving town: chief ambo Craig