Home' In The City : In the City - Summer - 2013 Contents 014
If you think your job has its ups and downs, meet
intensive care paramedic Joel Powell, who considers
being called in to deliver a home birth as an average
day at the office -- if the office had four wheels and was
constantly on the move.
Like Moses parting the Red Sea, the ACT Ambulance
Service can be seen plowing through the city's traffic to
offer medical relief to those in need. As well as attending
emergency calls, Powell's current role as duty officer
of operations, means that he looks after the frontline
management of operations, managing between 35 to 40
"Most staff work at Dickson Station which is our city
station," Powell says.
On call for duty in the Canberra CBD, Powell's team
responds to distressed calls from office blocks, nightclubs,
shopping centres, industrial areas, residential units, and
sporting grounds -- essentially anywhere someone is in
need of immediate medical assistance.
"We respond to any kind of emergency call from the city;
we turn up and we assess them and we start treatment
and then transport them to the hospital where they get
Although home births and assisted baby deliveries on the
side of the road only make up a small part of Powell's role,
he says those jobs are the most unforgettable.
"I guess it's refreshing in the fact that we deal with so
much death and trauma -- the uglier side of the role I
suppose, so it's wonderful to experience new life brought
into the world," he says.
Many people assume that the big clinical jobs are the most
rewarding, such as providing aid for multiple patient car
accidents. However, Powell says as well as those, it's also
the little things that have the biggest effect on him.
"Just being able to sit and talk to everyday patients that
real eye opener and a humbling experience. Hearing real
life stories, I think, keeps us grounded," he says.
"When a patient's husband of 50 years looks you in the
eye with tears, shakes your hand and says 'thank you'
after you have told him 'your wife is going to be OK' is
"After all, we are just doing what we have been trained
to do and people are genuinely appreciative. It does seem
quite surreal at times."
Helping the community is one of Powell's motivations, and
working side by side with others who share the same love
for the job only inspires him even more.
"As a duty officer of operations, nothing is more rewarding
than being a part of a team that works together as a single
unit. I love the fact that although we are individuals and
have different views on how things should be done, when
the big job comes, everyone is able to pull together and
concentrate on what really matters -- the patient," Powell
"And being able to support my crew in operations while
hopefully making a positive difference to their day gives
me the greatest satisfaction.
"I've always been involved in the community. I've worked
in SES and I've got that nature to want to always assist the
community, and the determination to feel like I've made
a significant impact and potentially changed the course of
people's lives for the better."
-- ACT AMBULANCE SERVICE DUTY OFFICER OF
OPERATIONS AND INTENSIVE CARE PARAMEDIC
After all, we are just doing what we
have been trained to do and people are
genuinely appreciative. It does seem
quite surreal at times."
With an abundance of volunteering experience
behind her and plans for even more, Carol Keil
just can't seem to stop doing what she loves
best -- the gift of giving.
"I've always had an ethos of wanting to give something
back to the community," Keil says.
"I grew up in Canberra, which is a wonderful place to
live. I've had a very good life and a good job so I've
always tried to give something back."
Having been on the Companion House board for many
years, the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum
for a further eight years as treasurer, a home tutor with
CIT, and the president of the Australia China Friendship
Society Ltd, it is safe to say that when it comes to
volunteering, Keil is the queen.
Currently a volunteer at the Citizens Advice Bureau
ACT, Keil works every Monday at the shopfront on
"People ring in or come in from the street asking advice
for anything and everything from 'how do I find my
real parents', 'I'm homeless', and 'where can I find a
free meal', to noisy neighbours, internet access and
accommodation for people with low income," Keil says.
"When you get to help someone that is distressed and
you can provide the information that they need to put
them on a pathway to feel a bit happier about the world,
it just gives you a real lift."
Out of all her selfless work, Keil names being a tutor for
an Afghani student among the most poignant.
"Being able to help someone who was new to the
country, from a very sheltered background and didn't
know how to post a letter or even tie shoe laces, and
just helping them get used to Australia was an amazing
experience that funnily enough in turn taught me a lot,"
"I still keep in contact with her almost every week.
"I just love meeting people of different backgrounds
who I normally wouldn't come across in life, and I try to
be a friendly face that is always there for them, to listen,
to care, and to help them with whatever situation they
may be in."
CAROL KEIL --
VOLUNTEER AT THE CITIZENS
ADVICE BUREAU ACT
PEOPLE & PLACES
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