The people behind the uniform: Port Douglas Ambulance


Karlie Brady

Junior Reporter

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Officer in Charge of the Port Douglas Ambulance Station, Ian Day, has 39 years experience on the job. Image: Karlie Brady.

Being a paramedic is not a job for the faint-hearted but Officer in Charge at the Port Douglas Ambulance Station, Ian Day, says every day he gets to do what he loves.

From delivering babies to easing someone’s pain in their final moments, it’s all in a day’s work for a Queensland Ambulance Officer and after 39 years on the job, Mr Day has seen it all.

“The job is wide and varied and very interesting, our days are never the same,” he said.

“You could be dealing with a car accident, or a person having a heart attack.

“We have the highway, so we have the car accidents, we have the beaches so we have jellyfish stings, we have snakes so we have snake bites.

“Alcohol and drug abuse is also quite high and we have mental health patients as well so we deal with a variety of different things,” he said.

For Mr Day, his passion for the job all started around the age of 16, when he came across a horrific car accident and didn’t know how to help the victims.

“We knew the ambulance was coming but we were out in the country so it seemed to take forever to get there and people were screaming, yelling, and bleeding in the car and it was a mess, so from that experience, I decided to do a first aid course.”

Mr Day enjoyed the first aid course so much he signed up to the ambulance service and a year later was a qualified paramedic.

Since then his career has taken him all over the world including the USA, Norway and, Papua New Guinea, which he said were real eye-openers.

“In LA there were shootings and stabbings, just one case after the other so I got to get my hands on experience there, and I learnt a heck of a lot.”

For the last seven years, Mr Day had been working at the Port Douglas Ambulance Station and on average they will get called to a job three to four times a day.

He said that as a small station they often work closely with the Mossman ambulance when needed.

“We also quite often will use firefighters or police to back us up, so we have a really good rapport with our local firies and police officers.”

Mr Day said it can be a difficult job however, in Port Douglas, there are few negatives.

“One of the negatives I do perceive is the abuse and assaults on paramedics which is on the rise Australia wide.

“I’ve been fairly lucky that in my 39 years I've only ever been assaulted twice.”

“Here in Port Douglas, since I've been here, we have never had any assaults or anything like that against us, which is good.

“We do get a fair bit of verbal abuse, usually people just mouthing off, with me I tend to let that go in one ear and out the other, I'm dealing with my patient and I'll let the police deal with people yelling and screaming.”

Paramedics also deal with a lot of confronting trauma on a daily basis, but Mr Day said it is something they are highly trained for and they get a lot of support.

“I'm very lucky with Queensland Ambulance Service because we have our fellow officers that we can debrief with and it’s always handy to get it off our chests.

“We've also got Priority One and that's an organisation within the service that we can make a phone call to and talk with and then if we need more help after that there are counsellors available.”

Mr Day emphasised that people should not be afraid to call the ambulance in any situation.

“If you recognise that there is something wrong and you have concerns, call us and we'll come to you, there's no issue about that”

Mr Day added that some people think their problem is not important enough or that the ambulance will be too busy but he urged everybody to just call for help.

“Especially those people who have got the chest pains, don't get into a car and drive yourself to hospital cause potentially that could go pear-shaped.

“I've seen little kids taken to hospital screaming and yelling and I think, why did they not call us, we could have splinted the arm, given them pain relief and potentially prevented the injury from getting worse.”

Despite any downsides, Mr Day says the reward and gratification from seeing a happy patient makes it all worth it.

“People's lives change in that instant and that's when they need us and I'm happy to go and assist people in their time of need, that's what gives me so much reward in doing this job.

“I've done CPR on people and brought them back, I’ve stopped people bleeding and I know that I have saved their life just from stopping that bleeding.

“We can't save everybody unfortunately which is hard but when we do save lives it's an awesome feeling.”

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