Mossman Ambulance celebrates 100 years of service


Karlie Brady


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Officer in Charge at the Mossman Station, Christian Schonenberger invites the community into the station to celebrate 100 years. Image: Karlie Brady.
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They’re the people you call when you’re in trouble and for a century they have been serving the Douglas Shire community.

The Mossman Ambulance Station is turning 100-years-old on Saturday 26 June.

And to celebrate the station is hosting an open day, inviting the community to come in and take a look behind the scenes.

Officer in Charge at the Mossman Station, Christian Schonenberger, said everyone is welcome to come and have a chat with your local paramedics, learn about the history, join in the sausage sizzle, refresh your CPR, and take a look at the equipment including new and old ambulances on display.

“We will show the public around the station, show them the cars and the equipment. We'll have an old antique ambulance vehicle to have a look at and some old equipment so people can get a perspective on what sort of equipment ambos used to use and you can see how the technology has evolved,” he said.

“We will also have a CPR van here for those who want to brush up on their CPR skills, which is important because it's one of those lifesaving skills that everyone should know how to do.”

While the budling and equipment may have changed over the years the ambulance service in Mossman has stood strong since it first opened in 1921.

“The first ambulance building was a timber Queenslander type building,” Mr Schonenberger said.

Soon after, the old Queensland National Bank building in Port Douglas was purchased and moved to the site of the current premises on Front Street.

In 1963 the building was replaced with the current ambulance station.

The ambulance service in Mossman was started by volunteers promoted by the desire to render much-needed first aid to people of the district.

Transport of patients to the then hospital in Port Douglas was the first problem to overcome.

At first, patients were transported to Port Douglas by the use of a sugar cane train from the Mossman Mill to the hospital.

Later a petrol-driven rail motor was used. Whenever the rail motor met with a train en route it would have to be removed from the line to allow the train to pass.

Eventually, a taxi was purchased and became the centre’s first road ambulance. However, this could also have its drawback, especially in bad weather when the road journey of 22km would take up to four hours.

The Mossman Hospital was opened in 1931 making it easier to transport patients from Mossman, where the bulk of the people in the Mossman ambulance area lived, to the local hospital.

In 1982 the Port Douglas Local Ambulance Committee was formed for the purpose of raising funds for the construction of a sub-centre, which was opened in 1990.

Mr Schonenberger said he was proud to be a part of the 100 years of service.

“To have it here for 100 years is quite a remarkable achievement, especially for a small town.”

Today the Mossman Ambulance Station boasts four ambulances, one Officer in Charge, ten Paramedics, and two Indigenous Ambulance Technicians.

“Back in the day the ambos were volunteers and obviously now it's evolved into an actual career, now we are registered health care professionals, so it's come a long way.”

Mr Schonenberger said working as a paramedic in a rural town like Mossman and covering a vast area means they get a taste of everything.

“We see anything from trauma, car accidents and people falling off ladders, to snake bites, marine stings, dog bites, cardiac events, heart attacks, strokes, its big mix of work.

“We go all the way up to the Bloomfield River, up to Mount Molloy and as far south as Ellis Beach, so it's a big area to cover.

“We also have a close bond with the Port Douglas Ambulance station, they have a single officer station so we often back them up,” he said.

The centenary celebration for the Mossman Ambulance kicks off at 12:00pm until 4:00pm on Saturday at the station, 43 Font Street.

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