HALF A HAIRCUT: Director of the Wide Bay Local Ambulance Network Russell Cooke with honourary ambulance officer Russell Kemp and officer-in-charge Keith Wrench. Picture: Sam Turner
HALF A HAIRCUT: Director of the Wide Bay Local Ambulance Network Russell Cooke with honourary ambulance officer Russell Kemp and officer-in-charge Keith Wrench. Picture: Sam Turner

Ambulance volunteer with ‘half a haircut’ awarded

FROM seeing snakes on the job, to saving teenagers from cardiac arrest and attending car accidents with half a haircut, this ambulance volunteer's career has been eventful.

Honourary ambulance officer Russell Kemp was congratulated and farewelled for his 22 years of service on January 15.

Held at the Gayndah ambulance station, he was presented with a Commissioner's Certificate of Appreciation, and an Emergency Service Volunteer lapel pin by the director of the Wide Bay Local Ambulance Network Russell Cooke.

Mr Kemp first came to the region 25 years ago as a manual arts teacher, and met Gayndah ambulance officer-in-charge Keith Wrench at a first aid course.

"He told me they were looking for volunteers, and I guess it just grew from there," Mr Kemp said.

"After that I was helping after school, at night, and on the weekends."

Mr Wrench opened the ceremony, discussing some of the memories he and Mr Kemp shared over the two decades of his service.

"We were discussing just the amount of fatalities we've been to out here, and how sad they were," Mr Wrench said.

"But through all those jobs we've supported each other, and you've been a real asset for the Queensland Ambulance Service and the Local Ambulance Committee."

Mr Kemp then shared a few words about the stories that have stuck with him over the years.

"In this job, we don't really see too many positives," he said.

"We've done a lot of sad jobs, but there have been some happy ones."

An incident in 2008 saw paramedics attend Burnett State College, where a Year 8 student went into cardiac arrest.

"He survived, so that was one of our success stories, he'd be about 25 now."

There have been situations however that have struck Mr Kemp as a bit out of the ordinary.

"Not only do we see snakes on the job, but we go to fatal car accidents with half a haircut," he said.

This bizarre scenario started when there was a power outage one afternoon in Gayndah, and the power had just returned while he was at the barbershop.

Emergency calls went out to the QFES and QAS, with the fireys heading one way, leaving the paramedics to head to Ban Ban Springs by themselves.

They arrived to an accident where a truck had hit a car, with the driver "not in a good way".

While on the scene, he was able to move the person out of the second car, and had asked for help from a bystander.

"I did some ops, then I got him in the car with half a haircut, and I then went on to help out Keith.

"Eventually we got the scene under control, but we couldn't get helicopter assistance due to storms in Bundaberg. The patient we were working on in the car then unfortunately passed away, so we had the other person to transport in."

Following the harrowing incident, they were called into the office two days later, and were notified the bystander was in fact a police inspector, and had praised their efforts.

Events such as this have stayed with Mr Kemp throughout his 22 years, as he thanked the QAS and Mr Wrench for his years in the service.