Volunteer honoured

Smithton Ambulance volunteer Christene Clarkson (pictured in white alongside her team) has been helping the Circular Head community in times of emergency for the past 20 years, recently receiving state and national recognition for her service. Picture: Ashleigh Force.

Service. Volunteering for 20 years is no small achievement, particularly when you’re likely faced with difficult situations on every shift.

Though Smithton Ambulance volunteer Christene Clarkson is a little embarrassed by the recognition, considering herself a “quiet achiever”, her two decades of service were acknowledged at an Ambulance Tasmania presentation at Latrobe last Thursday.

From Ambulance Tasmania she received a ‘Long Service and Recognition Medal’, awarded after 10 years of service along with a clasp for an additional 10 years, recognising her 20 years of service.

Christene was also presented with a National Medal for long service, awarded by the federal government to members of the emergency services and armed forces who have dedicated 15 years of service to the community.

Commencing in July 1993, Christene has long been considered a ‘vollie’ (volunteer).

“It’s a team effort, we work with the paramedic and other vollies,” she said of the awards.

When she reflects on the years dedicated to helping her community, and raising two young daughters, she knows she managed well.

“I had 12 months off because I had breast cancer,” she said. “If it hadn’t been for my husband (Brett) helping me, I don’t think I would have been able to keep going.”

The enjoyment comes from knowing she has helped those who need her, and the gratitude that brings.

“Sometimes you get a card in the mail, (recently) I helped this girl after she fell off her bike . . . about three of four days later I got a little card that she’d made – it was so cute,” Christene said.

“I get a lot of pleasure, but it’s also heartbreaking.

“If you go to a bad job, you always have someone to talk to . . . you’ve got a lot of support,” she said of the Ambulance team and her colleagues at the Smithton District Hospital where she works as a kitchen hand.

Other times, she’ll go for a walk, to the beach or spend time in her garden “to shut yourself off for a while”.

Born and bred in Circular Head, many recognise her as a descendant of early settlers, the Marthicks.

“Especially the older generation,” she said, and it generally helps to put them at ease despite what they’re going through.

“You just talk to them, you just give them a caring hand . . . I think they relax more because they know we’re people from this area.

“We’re really lucky in this area to have a good support network with the hospital and doctors and SES.”

Ambulance Tasmania Smithton branch station officer Bevan Reynolds said the Brittons Road branch offered a “good environment” for volunteering.

“It’s a really good bunch of people, we all get on,” he said. “People do it for themselves, and for their community as well.”

At present, helping the two permanent paramedics are 22 volunteers based at the Smithton branch, of various ages and levels of training.

“We’re always on the lookout, especially people that can do days,” Mr Reynolds said. “A lot of our guys work full time so they do a lot of nights.”

Volunteers are asked to commit to 240 rostered hours and 20 hours of training per year.

“Even if it’s the ability to get a stretcher and drive for us,” Mr Reynolds said. “If they want to do extra training to learn how to do more things, then that’s great too.”

For more information about volunteering with the Smithton Ambulance service, phone 6452 1223.

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