May 8, 2013
The demolition of Kingaroy’s old ambulance station last month to make way for a new $3.6 million complex has brought back memories for one of the area’s longest-serving ambos.
David “Barney” Wyatt will have served 30 years with the ambulance service in July, and plans to retire in September.
Barney is based at Proston these days, but served many of his years at the Kingaroy station in Kent Street.
He began work as an honorary ambulance officer based in Goomeri in 1983. Two years later, he accepted a permanent position as an “ambulance officer mechanic” with the then-QATB in Kingaroy.
There were just nine staff in the building at the time, assisted by 10 honorary officers and seven members of the Ambulance Auxiliary.
A few years after Barney shifted to Kingaroy, the station underwent a major refurbishment.
The station building, which dated to the 1950s, received a new facade and was transformed into an administration centre. The old Superintendent’s house, which was next door, was shifted to make way for a new plant room.
The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) was formed a few years later, on July 1, 1991, when 96 individual Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigades (QATB) were amalgamated into one organisation.
In 1993, the structure of the service changed again and Barney was asked to choose whether he wished to stay a mechanic or become a paramedic.
“I had been doing paramedical training right from when I started so it wasn’t anything really different,” he said.
“I had been spending two days a week in the workshop and the rest on the road. Now I’m on the road all the time.”
Barney is South Burnett born and bred and volunteered in three different emergency services before becoming a full-time ambo.
Not only was he an honorary ambulance officer at Goomeri, he also served in the SES and as an auxiliary fireman.
He also found the time to complete an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic.
Barney had worked with his brother Arthur, who owned a garage, since he was a teenager. It was during this time that he was first exposed to “emergency services” as he regularly drove the station’s tow truck when it was called out to traffic accidents.
When he and his wife Margaret, a school-teacher, shifted to Kingaroy, Barney also became involved with the Emergency Services Cadets, with whom he spent 14 years as an adult leader before the unit was dissolved and re-formed as a unit of the St John Ambulance earlier this year.
Barney – who has been volunteering his services in one way or another since 1975 – is now looking forward to some “my time” after he retires.