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Barney’s Seen A Lifetime Of Changes

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David "Barney" Wyatt ... 30 years with the Queensland Ambulance Service

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.

Related articles

The first Kingaroy Ambulance Centre, located in Kent Street, dated back to the 1920s (Photo: QAS)

The "new" Kingaroy Ambulance Centre was opened in Kent Street in 1953; the building was extended and a new facade erected in the 198os; the renovated complex was officially opened by then-Health Minister Leisha Harvey in February 1988 (Photo: QAS)

Barney Wyatt drove and maintained this road trauma Rescue Unit - a converted Toyota Troop Carrier - soon after he joined the Kingaroy ambulance service; the vehicle is believed to be still in service in the South Burnett, now with the SES (Photo: QAS)

The Kingaroy Ambulance Station earlier this year ... the 1953 building can be seen at the left behind the more modern facade

Heavy equipment moved in to demolish the complex last month

Anderssons Fruit Market for quality fruits and vegetables

2 Responses to Barney’s Seen A Lifetime Of Changes

  1. John Box

    Thanks to for an excellent story on the ambulance service history in Kingaroy and one of life’s true gentlemen Barney Wyatt.

  2. Gregory Biddle

    Hi Barney. Looks like you worked in the workshop I used to play in when I was a kid. When I was little I thought that shop was the biggest and best place on the planet. As we lived just up the road in Edward St past the fire station, it was easy for me to escape and toddle down to the Ambulance to see my grandfather, who I was always pleased to see. Unfortunately he was not always pleased to see me as I’d turn up at the most inopportune moments.

    I was in Kingaroy not long before they tore everything down and I was shocked to see just how small the workshop really was.

    The house you can see in the first photo – where my dad and aunt grew up – was moved to another part of town around the time the second centre was built in the early 50s. Dad took us to see it sometime back in the 70s.

    Whatever happened to the second house when they expanded the center up to the corner: is that it next to the centre in Edward St ? If I remember correctly, there was always an empty lot where that house is now.

    Re the cars in the first photo; the car on the left is a Cadillac V8 convertible that grandad bought from the estate a of one deceased Dr Meek in Brisbane. He sent the car to Charles Hope Body Builders in Brisbane to have it converted in to a proper ambulance car. The car on the far right is a Hudson and of the other two, one is a Buick and the one with the rag top is a Willys Knight.

    I did know the year models, but those details are no longer with me. Herb Biddle is the man standing in the center with the gold buttons on his uniform. One of the others – forget which – is Bill Geary.

    Next time I’m in Australia I plan on visiting the new centre and I’ll look you up to say hi.

    Regards Gregory Biddle – grandson of Herb Biddle, supt of the Kingaroy QATB from 1927 to 1972