The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) today acknowledged its top performers in the Far Northern Region at the annual Star Care awards ceremony which was held in Cairns as part of Ambulance Week celebrations.

Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the award recipients deserved to be publicly recognised for their achievements.

“The awards are QAS Commissioner David Melville’s personal recognition of the outstanding achievements of individuals who go beyond the call of duty and perform life saving work within their communities,” Mr Pitt said.

“Each of the recipients has gone the extra mile to ensure the safety and wellbeing of a fellow Queenslander.

“These are the types of people that should be recognised and rewarded for their amazing community spirit.”

Mr Pitt was joined by QAS Deputy Commissioner Russell Bowles and QAS Far Northern Region Assistant Commissioner Peter Cahill to present the annual awards at the Cairns Regional Council Headquarters. 

Christopher Schalk was awarded Emergency Medical Dispatcher of the Year after displaying brilliant leadership skills and mentoring a number of staff as well as maintaining excellent customer service skills. He also received the State level award in the same category.

“Christopher handles the majority of cases with little or no assistance, offers support to others and calmly deals with adverse situations” Mr Bowles said.

“He embodies the spirit of the Star Care awards and brings a high degree of competency and professionalism to the service.”

Intensive Care Paramedic Craig Downing from Port Douglas Ambulance Station was awarded Paramedic of the Year.

“Craig prides himself on excellence and a ‘nothing is too hard approach’,” Mr Cahill said.

“He also often gives up his time to conduct informal teaching sessions in order to improve the skills of advanced care paramedics in the Port Douglas area.”

Cooktown youngsters Ben and Richard King shared the Young Hero of the Year honour. During a blackout in Cooktown last November, a man hit his head, severed an artery and went next door for help. Brothers Ben, 10, and Richard, 12, sat the man down, gave him a t-shirt to stem the flow of blood and called for an ambulance. They then waited with the man at the gate for the ambulance to arrive.

“The boys remained calm throughout the entire case, despite the fact that the patient was losing a lot of blood,” Mr Cahill said.

“They did all they could to assist the man and he credits the boys with saving his life.”

In addition to the Star Care Awards, the Far Northern Region also presents the Mike Dillon Award. This award honours Michael Dillon, who worked as a Regional Ambulance Education Officer for this region.

“Although terminally ill with a rare cancer, Mr Dillon’s continued determination and commitment to the professionalism of the QAS was an inspiration to those around him. He passed away in November 1998,” Mr Cahill said.

“The winner of the Mike Dillon Award consistently displays these attributes and the recipient of this award for 2009 was Geoff Nash.”

Awards were also presented to: Lakeland’s Andy Stemmler – Honorary Ambulance officer of the Year; Edmonton’s Fran Lindsay – Local Ambulance Committee (LAC) Achiever of the Year; Jan Page – Dual Support Officer of the Year; Tina Sebasio – Dual Support Officer of the Year; and the Regional Staff Development Unit – Station of the Year.

As part of the continued Ambulance Week celebrations, the Queensland Government has also relaunched its Triple Zero campaign across the state.

Television and radio advertisements will be broadcast across the state over the next 10 weeks to encourage the community to examine their beliefs about the responsible use of ambulances and the Triple Zero service.