Ambos proud to celebrate station’s history

Dungog Ambulance Station officers: Superintendent Annette Vickery, station officer and paramedic Peter Harrison and paramedics Darren Hicks, David Corke, Graeme Scriven and Ray Bloomfield.Dungog ambulance station will celebrate its 50th birthday on Saturday.

While the ambulance service was officially set up in Dungog in 1939 in rented premises adjacent to the Commercial Bank, the current building in Mary Street was not built until 23 years later.

Built by the late Oscar Hannan, the building in Mary Street was officially opened by Leon Punch on May 26, 1962.

Station officer Peter Harrison joined the service 30 years ago last Sepember.

After seeing a car accident near where he was attending a party at Maitland, the 19-year-old Gresford teenager watched as ambulance officers took charge and “brought calm to a panicky situation”.

“It was then that I seriously thought about becoming an ambulance officer,” Mr Harrison said.

“I was working as a trainee manager at Woolworths at Greenhills and did a first aid course at the ambulance station at Hamilton in 1980 and was the first aid officer for the company.

“I really enjoyed it and applied to join the service the following year.”

Mr Harrison said he has “thoroughly enjoyed” his time with the service.

“While most people hate their job, I am one of the few who really enjoy it.

‘It’s been just one long adventure.

“I came to Dungog as a relief officer and joined Barry Baker, Alvin Robertson, Eddie Baker, Phillip Mobbs, Ray Harris and Les Ireland.

“Out of that crowd I am the only one left, they have either passed away, retired or moved on.

“A few months after Barry Baker passed away in 2005 I became station officer.”

Mr Harrison turns 50 this year – the same year the station was constructed – and is looking forward to celebrating on Saturday.

“It has been really interesting going back through the history of the station and how the auxiliary raised money, not only for vehicles and to build the station, but to help pay the wages of the ambulance officers,” he said.

“When I look at the plaque from the opening in 1962 by Leon Punch, I knew we had to do something to celebrate the 50 years to honour those before us.

“It will be a day to celebrate ambulance officers, but also a celebration of a community which came together to build the station,” Mr Harrison said.

“Even though it was set up in Dungog it was an outreach to Stroud and relief to Hawks Nest and Bulahdelah.

“Prior to the health commission taking over in the 1970s, the station and funds were managed locally by a board.

“Jean Robertson, Daphne Oades and hopefully Dot Higgins from the auxiliary will be able to come along on Saturday to celebrate the 50 years.

“The station will be open from 10am to 2pm with morning tea for the community.

“We also want to honour the auxiliary for all their service which has made this station what it is today.

“They worked tirelessly with a housie night every week at the station which was apparently always packed.

“They would organise street stalls and every Christmas the main street was closed and there would be a big parade.

“The kids would decorate their bikes, there would be a chocolate wheel and Christmas hams, turkeys, puddings, cakes and food available to buy.”

A medal presentation for ambulance and national medals will be held for officers from the Dungog, Stroud, Gloucester, Bulahdelah and Tea Gardens stations during the morning.

“We are also hoping a lot of former ambos, honorary bearers and serving officers will come and get together on the day so we can sit down and capture some history,” Mr Harrison said.

“We have invited former superintendents Lawrie Nugent, Jack Hawkins, Max Cross and Keith Campbell.

“Most of them are in their 80s now and live far afield, but hopefully they can come.”

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