Health & FitnessNovember 2014

DEAN FEATHERSTONE Paramedic of the Year

St John Ambulance NTSt John Ambulance has been caring for the people of the Northern Territory for more than 50 years. It’s a self-funded charitable organisation with eight stations across the Territory, operated by a small but dedicated team of staff and 500 volunteers. These officers attended to 44,695 jobs in the past financial year, helping one in six Territorians. The St John Ambulance Paramedic of the Year Awards acknowledge this outstanding performance.

This month, your family or someone you know might need help from St John Ambulance crews and paramedics.

“Paramedics have one of the most challenging and important jobs in our community,” says St John Ambulance NT CEO Ross Coburn.

“Whether they’re attending the scene of a car crash or reviving a cardiac patient, saving lives is all in a day’s work for a St John paramedic.”

But Dean Featherstone, this year’s St John Ambulance NT Paramedic of the Year, says it’s not always ‘lights and sirens action’.

“Perhaps a young child has busted an arm or ankle, or an elderly lady has fallen ill and she’s surrounded by worried family,” he says.

“The important thing is to be there for those people in their time of need. No matter how small it may seem, if they called 000, they have no one else to turn to. My job is to support them on their health care journey from their home to the emergency department, and I’ll try to get a smile out of them on the way.”

Becoming a paramedic was the last thought on Dean Featherstone’s mind when his work in mango production brought him to the Territory 10 years ago.

But a longing for an exciting new direction with an opportunity to travel and work in a variety of areas brought him to St John Ambulance in 2011.

And travel he did – working four days on, four days off at the Tennant Creek station, completing the 1400km return road journey to his home in Katherine each week for two years. He’s even been known to arrive at jobs by four-wheel-drive, air and boat.

He has since completed his first round of studies, worked in each of the eight stations, been awarded Student Paramedic of the Year and was recently married.
Dean describes the St John team as a family, always waiting with welcome arms. He says it fosters a kind of mateship he never expected.

“We’re like a football or basketball team in a way, your colleagues know what you’re thinking, what your next move is, they’ve got your back and you’ve got their trust, and patients know they’re in safe hands.”

Dean has also had the opportunity to work with volunteers, and wanted to publicly acknowledge their service to St John Ambulance and the community.
“Volunteers are the backbone of what we do, and my hat goes off to them,” he says.

“We have volunteers with 25-30 years of service, people don’t even stay in one job that long these days. Every individual I have come across has their own story to tell, and one worth telling.”

More than just an ambulance service, St John Ambulance also provides First Aid Kits and training courses, and conducts fully certified Motor Vehicle Registration and roadworthiness checks for the public. All proceeds support the volunteer arm of St John Ambulance.

“Proudly supporting Territorians for 50 years, St John is an integral part of our community. By supporting a strong St John, you are supporting a strong local community.”

St John CEO Ross Coburn.