Sergeant and his wife hospitalised on first day in Burnett
NEWLY appointed Eidsvold police officer-in charge Sergeant Mark Gawronski's first day in the North Burnett didn't go quite as expected.
Sgt Gawronski needed to transport his family of six from Brisbane to the Burnett on October 3 for his new job.
What Sgt Gawronski didn't expect was for his entire family to come down with norovirus, an extremely contagious viral infection causing vomiting and diarrhoea.
As a result, moving his violently ill wife Tara, his two daughters and twin boys to a town four hours away proved to be a mammoth task.
He was only 26km from Gayndah when the illness struck him, leaving them stranded on the side of the road.
"I had to eventually call 000 and they sent out two ambulances because Tara and I were too sick to drive," Sgt Gawronski said.
"So my entire family was transported to Gayndah Hospital, with an off-duty paramedic actually driving my four-wheel-drive into town."
After spending four hours in Gayndah Hospital, Sgt Gawronski and his wife were still to ill to drive to Eidsvold and had to lodge there for the night.
Despite confessing it was one of the worst days of his life, there was a silver lining: during his catastrophic first day in the region, he had the opportunity to meet most of the medical and emergency staff.
"I eventually told them I was the new sergeant beginning in Eidsvold, with them giving me a warm welcome to the North Burnett, under the worst circumstances," he said.
Sgt Gawronski has been a police officer for more than 15 years, and takes great pleasure in being the "bush cop".
After originally starting in Brisbane, he and his family have travelled across the state.
His track record includes stints at Mt Isa, Mckinlay, Caloundra, Rockhampton, Aramac, back to Brisbane, then finally to Eidsvold.
During his stay in Caloundra he was faced with a career choice, one that he hasn't looked back on.
"I had two decisions after some years at the Sunny Coast," Sgt Gawronski said.
"Do I stay being a senior constable the rest of my life on the beach and enjoy the lifestyle, or challenge myself for something better?"
His ambition led to him being promoted to sergeant and he took on the role as the communications supervisor of the Rockhampton 000 call centre.
While working in the call centre at the Roma St office in Brisbane, Sgt Gawronski still had aspirations to return to the bush.
"My office had 120 staff in a building of 2000, where I worked around the clock, seven nights a week, night shifts from 10pm-6am," he said.
"It was challenging, but it wasn't my cup of tea at all."
Feeling unfulfilled during his three-year stint in Brisbane, Sgt Gawronski jumped at the opportunity to be Eidsvold's next sergeant.
"Rather than being a number at a desk, I wanted to be a part of a community again," he said.
His stints in regional communities are among his highlights, despite their challenges.
"I love being the bush copper, living and giving back to the community."
Since arriving on October 4, Sgt Gawronski's children have already started at the state school and he has joined the boxing club, gym, and touch footy competition.
"I'm not here just for a stint either, I've brought my family here, and I'm invested in the community," he said.
His intentions were clear during his first week on the job when he wandered down the main strip and introduced himself to each shop owner and business.
Mayor Rachel Chambers has been in close contact with him as well to discuss future plans for the town and the area.
"She's been absolutely amazing and has been nothing but a great source of knowledge about what to expect, and how great the town is," Sgt Gawronski said.
"She basically sold me the town."
While in Eidsvold, the sergeant wants to get his name out there and start a relationship with its residents.
"Whether you've had good or bad experiences with the police, I want people to know that I'm here and that I'm ready to get involved in whatever I can," he said.
When it comes to his downtime, he's set aside some positive goals for himself, and his family.
"I'm looking forward to getting the spider webs off my fishing rods, and basically getting healthy again with my kids."