The Islander editorial – Shirley’s dedication

After returning from a three-week holiday away from Kangaroo Island, it was an honour on my first day back at work to be invited to the special ceremony marking the 45 years of service local Shirley Bell has provided to the SA Ambulance Service.

Humble as ever, Shirley in accepting the recognition said; “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it”. She was there with husband Charlie who was a foundation member of the team when it began as an independent community ambulance service in the 1960s.

She told the story about her first job, which entailed the rescue of an elderly farmer who was badly injured in a tractor roll-over accident at Middle River.

The new 27-year-old doctor met them at the airport and showed her how to monitor and treat chest injuries and put in a drip. She has enjoyed working with patients ever since.

She also elaborated on that cliff rescue at Penneshaw where Anton Jamieson told her she had only one chance to jump from the rocky shore to the waiting rubber duck vessel and how with a gentle shove she ended up safe but spreadeagled in the bottom of the boat.

Volunteer team leader Mark Haby said Shirley had been a mentor to him and her 45 years was an epic achievement and an incredible commitment to the community.

Regional team leader Mick Berden checked the ambulance station training log book and found out that Shirley had attended an amazing 1350 training nights in that very building.

Pictured together on the left are Mark Haby and Mick Berden, together with Shirley Bell at the Kingscote Ambulance Station on Monday night. 

Ambulance volunteers always have and always will continue to play a vital role in remote areas such as Kangaroo Island. 

The ambulance volunteers help patients receive lifesaving treatment faster where the local ambulance has to cover large distances. SAAS is always looking for volunteers.

One of those volunteers, Toni Kempster in November will be going to New Zealand on an exchange with the St John’s ambulance service. But prior to that in October, Toni and the local team will host a paramedic from New Zealand. Stay tuned to The Islander for that story. 

Anyone interested in joining the KI ambulance team in any capacity, should contact Mick Berden for further information on 0429 990 626. – Stan Gorton

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